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Books & Authors

Death and Dying: Conversations on End-of-Life Matters

While the natural urge may be to ignore or deny our mortality, a growing "good death" or "death positive" movement suggests that thinking about death, talking about death and planning for death can alleviate fears and help us live fuller lives.

How do you start these conversations with your loved ones? Throughout the month of October 2016, the Library will host Death & Dying: Conversations on End-of-Life Matters, a unique series of programs by community partners and nationally-acclaimed authors that will address the topic of death with honesty, sensitivity and gentle humor. Visit for a complete listing of programs.

For more information on death, dying, and end-of-life issues, browse our collection of books, DVDs and other resources.


 Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
A practicing surgeon addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families of the terminally ill.


 Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Spanning the last several years of her parents’ lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, documents and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. (Note: Author will speak in Springfield as part of the Library's Death & Dying series.)


 The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care by Angelo Volandes
Through the stories of seven patients and seven very different end-of-life experiences, Volandes demonstrates that what people need most at the end of their lives is not new technologies but one simple thing: The Conversation. He argues for a radical re-envisioning of the patient-doctor relationship and offers ways for patients and their families to talk about this difficult issue. (Note: Author will speak in Springfield as part of the Library's Death & Dying series.)


 Death Class: A True Story about Life by Erika Hayasaki
In this gripping true story, an extraordinary professor who teaches a popular course on death plunges deep into the off-campus hours of her most vulnerable students and shows them how to live. Hayasaki's expert reporting and literary prose bring Norma's wisdom out of the classroom, transforming it into an inspiring lesson for all. In the end, Norma's very own life--and how she lives it--is the lecture that sticks.


 Death’s Summer Coat: What the History of Death and Dying Teaches Us about Life and Living by Brandy Schillace
People are living longer than ever, yet the longer we live, the more taboo and alien our mortality becomes. What drove us to sanitize death and make it foreign and unfamiliar? Schillace shows how talking about death, and the rituals associated with it, can help provide answers.


 A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Written after his wife's death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moments," Lewis’s classic work is an unflinchingly truthful account of how loss can lead even a stalwart believer to lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and the inspirational tale of how he can possibly regain his bearings.


 Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death by Erica Brown
Brown presents an affirming meditation on living fully and preparing for death that guides readers on an emotional journey drawing on the wisdom of myriad spiritual traditions, covering a range of practical issues while sharing compassionate, illustrative stories.


 On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
The five stages of grief, first formulated in this hugely influential work, are now part of our common understanding of loss. Ideal for all those with an interest in bereavement, this classic text is reissued with a new introduction looking at its influence on contemporary thought and practice.


 Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
With humor and passion, the blogger behind the popular Web series Ask a Mortician describes her experiences working at a crematory, including how she sometimes got ashes on her clothes and how she cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes. (Note: Author will speak in Springfield as part of the Library's Death & Dying series.)


 The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch
The poet and funeral director offers his observations on life, death and the rituals of society. (Note: Author will speak in Springfield as part of the Library's Death & Dying series.)


When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi 
A young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal diagnosis describes his examination into what truly makes a meaningful life.




Being Mortal
Children and Grief: Children Teaching Children about Grief
Facing Death
Footprints on Our Hearts: How to Cope After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Newborn Death
How to Die in Oregon
One Last Hug (...and a Few Smooches): Three Days at Grief Camp
The Undertaking (Note: The subject of this film will speak in Springfield as part of the Library's Death and Dying series.)

Web Resources

Ask a Mortician YouTube series (Note: The creator of this series will speak in Springfield as part of the Library's Death and Dying series.)

The Order of the Good Death

Lost and Found Grief Center, Springfield, MO 

Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks

National Alliance on Mental Illness – Southwest Missouri

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Advance Care Planning Information

Missouri Advance Directive (pdf)

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