While there are numerous books and videos on the subject of end-of-life issues, IFC volunteers have compiled a list of those they find particularly useful. This list, ordered by topic area, will build over time.
Your Right to Make Healthcare Decisions, Colorado Hospital Association
A very useful pamphlet , which includes an overview of patient and family rights, as well as forms for Medical Power of Attorney, CPR Directive and Living Will, can be downloaded at www.ColoradoAdvanceDirectives.com.
New York Times article: “What do you want done with your body after you die? It is an unnerving but important question, and for most Americans there have long been only two obvious choices: burial or cremation. But a third option, a liquefaction process called by a variety of names — flameless cremation, green cremation or the “Fire to Water” method — is starting to gain popularity throughout the United States…”
New Yorker article: “What Do We Do with Our Dead? Our mortuary conventions reveal a lot about our relation to the past.”
“The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with ‘dignity.’ Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Here to Eternity is an immersive global journey that introduces compelling, powerful rituals almost entirely unknown in America.”
Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love, Lisa Carlson
This is a comprehensive guide for those making funeral arrangements without engaging a professional funeral director. Disposition Rules and Regulations are provided for every state.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Tales from the Crematory, Caitlin Doughty
Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin’s engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing…she argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, calling for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rimpoche
Though rooted in Buddhist philosophy, this book offers universally practical and insightful guidance for the preparation and experience of dying.
Living Memory Yizkor boxes: Copper artist Shahna Lax creates beautiful memorial candle settings and boxes. She writes about how small items can evoke vivid memories of a loved one, and can fit into a compact space.
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
One day he is a doctor healing the dying; the next a patient struggling to live. This deeply moving personal account by Kalanithi, finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds.
Mortality, Christopher Hitchens
Funny, smart, irreverent, and surprisingly moving, this lucid, unflinching end-of-life journey through “Tumorville” is brave and powerful stuff…a heartbreaking display.
Heart, But Never Break: A Remarkable Illustrated Meditation on Loss and Life, Glen Ringtved (author), Charlotte Pardi (illustator)
Published in February 2016, this is a great children’s book about making sense of death. Authored by Danish children’s book author Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi, and translated into English by Robert Moulthrop. From Amazon description, “Aware their grandmother is gravely ill, four siblings make a pact to keep death from taking her away. But Death does arrive all the same, as it must. He comes gently, naturally. And he comes with enough time to share a story with the children that helps them to realize the value of loss to life and the importance of being able to say goodbye.”
Grief Walker documents the work of Stephen Jenkinson with the dying.
Kristina’s Goodbye; a moving YouTube video, Kristina’s Goodbye shares one woman’s perspectives at the end of life.
Lady Ganga: Nilza’s Story, a documentary of Michele Baldwin’s decision, as she was dying of cervical cancer, to use her death to benefit others, by bringing awareness of cervical cancer and its treatment to remote Indian/Nepali villages.
Open Air, a documentary on the Crestone End of Life Projects open-air cremation site
What Really Matters at the End of Life, B.J. Miller TED Talk, filmed March 2015 (20 minutes). From the TED Talk excerpt, “BJ Miller is a hospice and palliative medicine physician who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. Take the time to savor this moving talk, which asks big questions about how we think on death and honor life.”
What Tibetan Book of the dead (full documentary 2 parts) According to Buddhist scholar and translator Robert Thurman (father of Uma), The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or Bardo Thodol, “organizes the experiences of the between—(Tibetan, bar-do) usually referring to the state between death and rebirth.” While The Book of the Dead has, of course, a long and illustrious history in Tibetan Buddhist life, it also has its place in the history of the West, particularly among 20th century intellectuals and artists. In the 1950s, for example, there was talk among Igor Stravinsky, Martha Graham, and Aldous Huxley to turn the Bardo into a ballet with a Greek chorus. Huxley, who famously spent his final hours on an acid trip, asked that a passage from the book be read to him as he lay dying: “Hey! Noble one, you named Aldous Huxley! Now the time has come for you to seek the way….”
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The Crestone End of Life Project is our community group based in Crestone, Colorado.
Poetry & Photography
Read poetry about the sacredness of transition from life into death. To share in reflection, remembering or as part of a farewell or memorial ceremony.