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These books and movies have been thoughtfully chosen for their ability to inspire, educate, and shed light on the myriad facets of end-of-life experience. From memoirs that offer personal insights to documentaries that explore the human spirit, each book and movie serves as a beacon of wisdom, fostering understanding and compassion during life's most significant transitions.
EOL Care & Education
Stories About Death
The Nature of Daeth
Children
Grief Support
After Life
Spiritual

End-of-Life Care & Education

Books

ADVICE FOR FUTURE CORPSES (AND THOSE WHO LOVE THEM):
A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying

SALLIE TISDALE

“In its loving, fierce specificity, this book on how to die is also a blessedly saccharine-free guide for how to live...Tisdale does not write to allay anxieties but to acknowledge them, and she brings death so close, in such detail and with such directness, that something unusual happens, something that feels a bit taboo. She invites not just awe or dread—but our curiosity. And why not? We are, after all, just ‘future corpses pretending we don’t know.’” – NEW YORK TIMES

BEING MORTAL
Medicine and What Matters in the End

ATUL GAWANDE

In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Here he examines its ultimate limitations and failures in his own practices as well as others’ as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life all the way to the very end. Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guide.

BOOMER BURDEN
Dealing With Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff

JULIE HALL

A practical guide to advise Baby Boomers how to deal with the daunting task of facing a parents’ eventual passing as it relates to residential contents, heirlooms, and the often difficult family interactions and feuds that accompany them.

FINAL RIGHTS
Reclaiming the American Way of Death

JOSHUA SLOCUM AND LISA CARLSON

Josh Slocum and Lisa Carlson are the two most prominent advocates of consumer rights in dealing with the death industry. Here they combine efforts to inform consumers of their rights and propose long-needed reforms. In addition to nationwide issues, the book covers state-by-state information needed by anybody who wishes to take charge of funeral arrangements for a loved one, with or without the help of a funeral director.

KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR
The Path to a Better Way of Death

KATY BUTLER

This groundbreaking blend of memoir and investigative reporting—hailed as “Notable Book of the Year” by The New York Times—ponders the “Good Death” and the forces that stand in its way.

Movies

ALTERNATE ENDINGS
Six New Ways to Die in America

An exploration of the changing attitudes in the United States surrounding death, including the ways it is recognized today and how many approach the end of life.

BEING MORTAL

FRONTLINE follows renowned New Yorker writer and Boston surgeon Atul Gawande as he explores the relationships doctors have with patients who are nearing the end of life.

DEPARTURES
The Gift of Last Memories

A newly unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for funerals.

GRIEFWALKER

GRIEFWALKER is an extraordinary portrait of Harvard-trained theologian Stephen Jenkinson, who teaches that death empowers us to live and that we must know grief well in order to appreciate our own lives.

Stories About Death

Books

BEING WITH DYING
Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

JOAN HALIFAX AND IRA BYOCK, MD

A Buddhist teacher draws from her years of experience in caring for the dying to provide inspiring lessons on how to face death with courage and compassion. The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated by Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. A Zen priest and a world-renowned pioneer in care of the dying, Halifax has helped countless people face death with courage and trained caregivers in compassionate end-of-life care.

WAITING FOR THE LAST BUS
Reflections on Life and Death

RICHARD HOLLOWAY

Where do we go when we die? Or is there nowhere to go? Is death something we can do or is it just something that happens to us? Now in his ninth decade, former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway has spent a lifetime at the bedsides of the dying, guiding countless men and women towards peaceful deaths. In Waiting for the Last Bus, he presents a positive, meditative and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn from death: facing up to the limitations of our bodies as they falter, reflecting on our failings, and forgiving ourselves and others.

Movies

WIT

Emma Thompson stars as a single-minded English
professor who finds
enlightenment through
her struggle with cancer.

Nature of Death

Books

DYING WELL
Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life

IRA BYOCK, MD

Nobody should have to die in pain. Nobody should have to die alone. This is Ira Byock’s dream, and he is dedicating his life to making it come true. Dying Well brings us to the homes and bedsides of families with whom Dr. Byock has worked, telling stories of love and reconciliation in the face of tragedy, pain, medical drama, and conflict.

MODERN DEATH
How Medicine Changed the End of Life

HAIDER WARRAICH

There is no more universal truth in life than death. No matter who you are, it is certain that one day you will die, but the mechanics and understanding of that experience will differ greatly in today’s modern age. Dr. Haider Warraich is a young and brilliant new voice in the conversation about death and dying. Dr. Warraich takes a broader look at how we die today, from the cellular level up to the very definition of death itself.

Movies

GLEASON

At the age of 34, Steve Gleason, former NFL defensive back and New Orleans hero, was diagnosed with ALS. Gleason’s mission is to live his life to the fullest.

NOW IS GOOD

A teenage girl dying of leukemia compiles a list of things she would like to do before passing away. Topping the list is her desire to lose her virginity.

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

Moving film about journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffered a stroke that left him able to communicate only by blinking his left eye.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

A dying teenage girl unexpectedly falls for a fellow cancer survivor in this moving adaptation of the bestselling novel.

For Children

Books

LIFETIMES
The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children

BRYAN MELLONIE AND ROBERT INGPEN

When the death of a relative, a friend, or a pet happens or is about to happen... how can we help a child to understand? Lifetimes is a moving book for children of all ages, even parents too. It lets us explain life and death in a sensitive, caring, beautiful way. Lifetimes tells us about beginnings. And about endings. And about living in between. With large, wonderful illustrations, it tells about plants. About animals. About people. It tells that dying is as much a part of living as being born. It helps us to remember. It helps us to understand.

TALKING ABOUT DEATH
A Dialogue between Parent and Child

EARL A. GROLLMAN

Why do people die? How do you explain the loss of a loved one to a child? This book is a compassionate guide for adults and children to read together, featuring a read-along story and answers to questions children ask about death. Talking about Death is a classic guide for parents helping their children through the death of a loved one. With a helpful list of dos and don’ts, an illustrated read-along dialogue, and a guide to explaining death, Grollman provides sensitive and timely advice for families coping with loss.

THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF
A Story of Life for All Ages

LEO BUSCAGLIA, PhD

The beloved classic from New York Times bestselling author Leo Buscaglia that has helped thousands of children and adults come to grips with life and death — a warm, wonderfully wise, and strikingly simple story about a leaf named Freddie.

Movies

UP

Retired balloon salesman
Carl Fredrickson, part
rascal and part dreamer,
takes to the sky by tying
thousands of balloons to
his house. Unbeknownst
to Carl, a young
Wildnerness Explorer
named Russell becomes
an unexpected stowaway
for the journey.

COCO

In Disney Pixar’s
extraordinary adventure,
a boy who dreams of
becoming a great musician
embarks on a journey to
uncover the mysteries
behind his ancestor’s
stories and traditions.

Grief Support

Books

A GRIEF OBSERVED

C.S. LEWIS

A classic work on grief, A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moments,” A Grief Observed 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.

FINDING MEANING
The Sixth Stage of Grief

DAVID KESSLER

David Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. His experience with thousands of people on the edge of life and death has taught him the secrets to living a fulfilled life, even after life’s tragedies. He coauthored On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. In this book, Kessler gives readers a roadmap to remembering those who have died with more love than pain; he shows us how to move forward in a way that honors our loved ones.

THE AFTERGRIEF
Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss/p>

HOPE EDELMAN

A validating new approach to the long-term grieving process that explains why we feel “stuck,” why that’s normal, and how shifting our perception of grief can help us grow — from The New York Times bestselling author of Motherless Daughters. “This is perhaps one of the most important books about grief ever written. It finally dispels the myth that we are all supposed to get over the death of a loved one.” – CLAIRE BIDWELL SMITH, AUTHOR OF ANXIETY: THE MISSING STAGE OF GRIEF

THE FIVE INVITATIONS
Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

FRANK OSTASESKI

Life and death are a package deal. They cannot be pulled apart and we cannot truly live unless we are aware of death. The Five Invitations is an exhilarating meditation on the meaning of life and how maintaining an ever-present consciousness of death can bring us closer to our truest selves. As a renowned teacher of compassionate caregiving and the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, Frank Ostaseski distills the lessons gleaned over the course of his career, offering an evocative and stirring guide that points to a radical path to transformation.

THE WILD EDGE OF SORROW
Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

FRANCIS WELLER AND MICHAEL LERNER

Noted psychotherapist Francis Weller provides an essential guide for navigating the deep waters of sorrow and loss in this lyrical yet practical handbook for mastering the art of grieving. Describing how Western patterns of amnesia and anesthesia affect our capacity to cope with personal and collective sorrows, Weller reveals the new vitality we may encounter when we welcome, rather than fear, the pain of loss.

VISIONS, TRIPS, AND CROWDED ROOMS
Who and What You See Before You Die

DAVID KESSLER

David Kessler takes on three uniquely shared experiences that challenge our ability to explain and fully understand the mystery of our final days. In the tapestry of life and death, we may begin to see connections to the past that we missed in life. While death may look like a loss to the living, the last hours of a dying person may be filled with fullness rather than emptiness. In this fascinating book, which includes a new Afterword, Kessler brings us stunning stories from the bedsides of the dying that will educate, enlighten, and comfort us all.

After Life

Books

DYING TO BE ME
My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing

ANITA MOORJANI

In this truly inspirational memoir, Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years. As her organs failed, she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth... and the actual cause of her disease. Upon regaining consciousness, Anita found that her condition had improved so rapidly that she was released from the hospital within weeks—without a trace of cancer in her body! This is a book that definitely makes the case that we are spiritual beings having a human experience... and that we are all One!

Movies

WHAT DREAMS MAY COME

Chris Nielsen dies in an accident, and enters Heaven. But when he discovers that his beloved wife Annie has killed herself out of grief over the loss, he embarks on an afterlife adventure to reunite with her.

Spiritual

Books

STILL HERE
Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying

RAM DASS

More than thirty years ago, an entire generation sought a new way of life, looking for fulfillment and meaning in a way no one had before. Leaving his teaching job at Harvard, Ram Dass embodied the role of spiritual seeker, showing others how to find peace within themselves in one of the greatest spiritual classics of the twentieth century, the twomillion-copy bestseller Be Here Now. As many of that generation enter the autumn of their years, the big questions of peace and of purpose have returned demanding answers. And once again, Ram Dass blazes a new trail, inviting all to join him on the next stage of the journey.

THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING
The Spiritual Classic & International Bestseller: 30th Anniversary Edition

SOGYAL RINPOCHE

A newly revised and updated 30th Anniversary edition of the internationally bestselling spiritual classic, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, is the ultimate introduction to Tibetan Buddhist wisdom. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of [Dante’s] The Divine Comedy,” this is the essential work that moved Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions, to proclaim, “I have encountered no book on the interplay of life and death that is more comprehensive, practical, and wise.”