Helpful Books

The Dying Experience

The Lost Art of Dying Lydia S. Dugdale
A Columbia University physician inspires us to rethink death and offers insights on how we can learn to embrace the art of dying well in this wise, clear-eyed book that is compelling and soulful.

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying Maggie Callanan, Patricia Kelley
In this moving and compassionate book, hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life. Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings and even choreograph their own final moments.

Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life Ira Byock, MD
Through the true stories of patients, Dr. Ira Byock, a prominent palliative care physician and expert in end-of-life decisions, shows us that a lot of important emotional work can be accomplished in the final months, weeks and even days of life.

When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die David Kessler
David Kessler, one of the most renowned experts on death and grief, takes on three uniquely shared experiences-visions, trips, and crowded rooms-that challenge our ability to explain and fully understand the mystery of our final days.

Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death Joan Halifax
Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, Joan Halifax's work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person's care, who are facing their own death, or who are wishing to explore and contemplate the transformative power of the dying process.

Improving End-of-Life Care in Healthcare

The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life Ira Byock, MD
A palliative care doctor on the front lines of hospital care illuminates one of the most important and controversial ethical issues of our time on his quest to transform care through the end of life.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End Atul Gawande, MD
In Being Mortal, author Dr. Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD
Extreme Measures charts Dr. Jessica Zitter's journey from wanting to be one kind of hero to becoming another--a doctor who prioritizes the patient's values and preferences in an environment where the default choice is the extreme use of technology.

Grief and Healing

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief Martha Whitmore Hickman
For those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, here are thoughtful words to strengthen, inspire and comfort.

The Hot Young Widows Club: Lessons on Survival from the Front Lines of Grief Nora McInerny Purmort
From the host of the popular podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, comes a wise, humorous roadmap and caring resource for anyone going through the loss of a loved one—or even a difficult life moment.

On Death and Dying Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
In this remarkable book, Dr. Kübler-Ross first explored the now-famous five stages of death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Through sample interviews and conversations, she gives the reader a better understanding of how imminent death affects the patient, the professionals who serve that patient, and the patient's family, bringing hope to all who are involved.

Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief David Kessler
In this groundbreaking new work, David Kessler—an expert on grief and the coauthor with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross of the iconic On Grief and Grieving—journeys beyond the classic five stages to discover a sixth stage: meaning.

It's Ok That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture that Doesn't Understand Megan Devine
Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides—as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner—Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing.

Embracing Life

Gratitude Oliver Sacks
During the last few months of his life, Oliver Sacks wrote a set of essays in which he movingly explored his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death. Together, these four essays form an ode to the uniqueness of each human being and to gratitude for the gift of life.

The Midnight Library Matt Haig
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices...Would you have done anything differently, if you had the chance to undo your regrets? A novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived.

The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living Ira Byock, MD
Four simple phrases--"Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you"--carry enormous power to mend and nurture our relationships and inner lives. These four phrases and the sentiments they convey provide a path to emotional well-being, guiding us through interpersonal difficulties to life with integrity and grace.

Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind Barbara Becker
Becker inspires readers to live with the end in mind and proves that turning toward loss rather than away from it is the only true way to live life to its fullest. Just as with the heartwood of a tree—the central core that is no longer alive yet supports the newer growth rings—the dead become an enduring source of strength to the living.

Children's Books on Loss and Grief

The Fall of Freddy the Leaf Leo Buscaglia
As Freddie experiences the changing seasons along with his companion leaves, he learns about the delicate balance between life and death.

Love You Forever Robert Munsch, Shelia McGraw
"A young woman holds her newborn son and looks at him lovingly. Softly she sings to him: 'I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.' An extraordinarily different story by Robert Munsch is a gentle affirmation of the love a parent feels for their child—forever.

The Goodbye Book Todd Parr
Through the lens of a pet fish who has lost his companion, Todd Parr tells a moving and wholly accessible story about saying goodbye. Touching upon the host of emotions children experience, Todd reminds readers that it's okay not to know all the answers, and that someone will always be there to support them.

When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief Marge Eaton Heegaard
A practical format for allowing children to understand the concept of death and develop coping skills for life. This book is designed for young readers to illustrate.

The Invisible String Patrice Karst, Geoff Stevenson
The Invisible String is a bestselling picture book about the unbreakable connections between loved ones.