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Death & Dying: Books about End-of-Life Matters

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A Grief Observed
by C.S. Lewis Details
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.
Always and Forever
by Alan Durant Details
A family of forest animals learns to cope with the death of a loved one.
American Way of Death Revisited
by  Jessica Mitford Details
When first published in 1963, this landmark of investigative journalism became a runaway bestseller and resulted in legislation to protect grieving families from the unscrupulous sales practices of those in "the dismal trade." Written with scathing wit, Mitford's exposé of the American funeral industry is at once deadly serious and side-splittingly funny.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande Details
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.
Bettyville: a Memoir
by George Hodgman Details
When Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself an unlikely caretaker of his aging mother, Betty, who has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay. As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty's life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair.
Bodies in Motion and at Rest
by Thomas Lynch Details
Lynch, a poet and funeral director, continues to examine the relations between the literary and mortuary arts in these essays that illuminate not only how we die but how we live.
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
by Roz Chast Details
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz Chast held to the practices of denial, avoidance and distraction. But when her mother suffers an accident, the tools that had served Chast well through her parents' seventies, eighties and early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies, the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role, aging and unstable parents leaving home for an institution, learning to respond to uncomfortable physical intimacies, managing logistics and hiring strangers to provide the most personal of care.
Death Class: a True Story about Life
by Erika Hayasaki Details
A journalist details how Norma Bowe, the professor of a popular class on the stages of dying, death, and bereavement at Kean University in New Jersey, shows her students how to truly heal and live their lives through contemplating the end.
Death is Stupid
by Anastasia Higginbotham Details
This exploration of grief and mourning recognizes the anger and confusion that a child feels around death while offering possibilities for celebrating life and love.
Death's Summer Coat: What the History of Death and Dying Can Tell us about Life and Living
by Brandy Schillace Details
A doctor combines her profession along with her love of literature and history in a scholarly work that examines how humans have dealt with death and mortality throughout time and through changing cultures.
Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter with Love
by Marilyn McEntyre Details
When the time comes for us to die, how do we say good-bye to our friends, our families and the lives we have lived? How do we remain faithful -- to God, to ourselves, and to loved ones -- as we face our final journey?
Finding the Words: How to Talk with Children & Teens about Death, Suicide, Homicide, Funerals, Cremation & Other End-of-Life Matters
by Alan Wolfelt Details
In this compassionate book, readers will find simplified and suitable methods for talking to children and teenagers about sensitive topics with an emphasis on the subject of death. Honest but child-appropriate language is advocated, and various wording and levels of explanation are suggested for different ages. An ideal book for parents, caregivers, and counselors looking for an easy resource when talking to youths about death, this book can be used for any setting, religious or otherwise.
Greening Death: Reclaiming Burial Practices and Restoring our Tie to the Earth
by Suzanne Kelly Details
Over the last fifteen years, people have been slowly waking up to the toxic and alienating practices that have come to make up the American Way of Death. Kelly explores this awakening, arguing that beyond the greener and more cost-efficient practices of the Green Burial Movement lies an even greater promise: tying us back to the earth.
Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?: Explaining Sudden Death in Words Very Young Children Can Understand
by Elke Barber Details
This honest, sensitive and beautifully illustrated picture book is designed to help explain the concept of death to children aged 3+. The book provides reassurance and understanding to readers through clear and honest answers to the difficult questions that can follow the death of a loved one.
Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
by Katy Butler Details
This revolutionary blend of memoir and investigative reporting lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that dying has become, and chronicles the rise of "slow medicine," a new movement trying to reclaim the Good Deaths our ancestors prized.
Let's Talk about Death: Asking the Questions That Profoundly Change the Way We Live and Die
by Irene Kacandes Details
The authors share the results of a no-holds-barred discussion they conducted for several years over email. Readers can consider a range of views on complicated issues to which there are no right answers. Letting ourselves pose certain questions has the potential to profoundly change the way we think about death, how we choose to die and, just as importantly, the way we live.
On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families
by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Details
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 Details
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.
Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler's Guide to Understanding Death
by Bonnie Zucker Details
A tool for parents, caregivers, therapists, and teachers to help young children understand the concept of death and begin the process of coping with the loss.
The Best Care Possible: a Physician's Quest to Transform Care through the End of Life
by Ira Byock Details
A palliative care doctor on the front lines of hospital care examines an important and controversial ethical issue in his quest to transform care through the end of life.
The Conversation: a Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care
by Angelo Volandes Details
Two thirds of Americans die in healthcare institutions tethered to machines and tubes, even though research indicates that most prefer to die at home in comfort, surrounded by loved ones. Volandes believes the question 'How do you want to live?' must be posed to the seriously ill because they deserve to choose.
When Breath becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi Details
A young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal diagnosis describes his examination into what truly makes a meaningful life.
Will the Circle be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith
by Studs Terkel Details
One of Studs Terkel's most important oral histories, this book explores the indelible variety of reactions to mortality and the experience of death and the possibility of life afterward. Here a wide range of people addresses the unknowable culmination of our lives and its impact on the way we live, with grace and poignancy. Includes interviews with Kurt Vonnegut, Ira Glass and many ordinary people.
Updated 10/04/2016

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