We had a wonderful gathering at Anne’s home on September 12. Seventeen people were present to share a heckuva lot of death- and grief-related books that have touched their lives and hearts. I’ve made an attempt to sort them into categories this year. Not sure how well I did, though. Enjoy!
- I Remember Papa, Karen Dare and CA Nobens. Sammy Squirrelmunk grieves his grandfather’s death.
- The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, Judith Viorst. Children’s book about a child whose pet cat dies.
- From Here to Eternity, Caitlin Doughty. “World tour” of death practices. Observations of death detachment in US vs. participation in the rest of the world.
- Notes about cremation: in other cultures where cremation rates are high, families/communities are more involved. Is increasing awareness of witness cremation part of our work?
- Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Caitlin Doughty. Good introduction to the topic. Accessible.
- Being Dead, Jim Crace. Novel about murdered couple whose bodies aren’t found for over a week; weaves in updates on what’s happening with the bodies.
Lessons For the Dying
- The Grace in Dying, Kathleen Dowling Singh. Framework to help understand the constant transformations of life
- Living with Cancer: A Step-by-Step Guide for Coping Medically and Emotionally with a Serious Diagnosis, Vicki Jackson, David Ryan, & Michelle Seaton
- Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death & Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life & Living, David Kessler & Elizabeth Kubler Ross. A wide array of topics in life, death, and relationships.
- The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, Frank Ostaseski. One of the founders of the Zen hospice movement. Looks at death for all, not just the “actively” dying.
- Life After the Diagnosis: Expert Advice of Living Well with Serious Illness for Patients and Caregivers, Steven Pantilat. How to talk to doctors and ask the right questions
- Making Friends with Death: A Field Guide for Your Impending Last Breath (To Be Read, Ideally, Before It’s Imminent!), Laura Pritchett. A lighter-hearted guide to death and dying.
Lessons for Caregivers and Other Beloveds
- Caring for the Dying: The Doula Approach to a Meaningful Death, Henry Fersko-Weiss. Techniques for actively being with the dying
- Being with Dying, Joan Halifax. Short segments, good for someone who’s actively being with someone who’s dying and has short spans of time and attention. Contemplative end of life care program.
- On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, David Kessler & Elizabeth Kubler Ross. A book about how we grieve.
- Holding Space: on loving, dying, and letting go, Amy Wright Glenn. How to be with discomfort and hold space for others’ grief.
Memoirs and Personal Accounts
- Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?Roz Chast. Sometimes painful, but incredibly honest and important, graphic memoir about Chast’s parents’ physical and mental decline and eventual deaths. Could be a manual on how not to approach death and dying.
- Laughing in a Waterfall, Marianne Dietzel. The story of her late daughter Nina’s life, including the efforts of the Waldorf community after Nina’s death
- Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home, Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg and her partner on parallel cancer journeys
- Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully – A Journey with Cancer and Beyond, Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan. The story of their sister-in-law’s intentional journey with cancer.
- The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, Nina Riggs. Author’s chronicle of her diagnosis and journey with breast cancer.
- Choosing to Die: A Personal Story, Phyllis Shachter. Schacter’s experience with her husband’s VSED (voluntary stopping eating drinking) at end of life
- Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, Mirabai Starr. Author’s personal journey through grief
- Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die, David Kessler. A collection of first-hand accounts from those who have sat with the dying, sharing what the dying say and see at end of life.
- Many Lives, Many Masters, Brian Weiss. Stories of reincarnation
- Dog Songs: Poems, Mary Oliver. Elegaic poetry about dogs that have been in Oliver’s life
- Wings Above the Sea: A story and images of loss and transformation, Kyoko Katayama. Gorgeous prose poems and paintings about Katayama’s grieving process before and after her husband’s death.
- Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death, Richard Holloway. The emotional and cultural toll of prolonged lifespans.
- Stephen Levine’s books on death
- To Bless the Space Between Us, John O’Donoghue
- Death, et seq.Interviews about all aspects of death in US culture
- GeriPal: Geriatric palliative care physicians
- Kaddish: Rituals for death from around the world