PO Box 1216, Crestone, CO 81131 informedfinalchoices@gmail.com

Recommended Reading and Viewing

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.

Hospice and End-of-Life Topics

One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die: How B.J. Miller, a doctor and triple amputee, used his own experience to pioneer a new model of palliative care at a small, quirky hospice in San Francisco. New York Times article by Jon Mooallem, January 3, 2017.

Advanced Directives

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.

A Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America, Ann Neuman
Neumann takes an unflinching look at the reality of dying and end-of-life decisions. A valuable discussion of the complex issues involved in end-of-life care.

Disposition Choices / Home Funerals

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).

Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, Stephen Jenkinson
Provides a path toward learning the skills of dying. “Dying well is a right and responsibility of everyone.”

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.

Bereavement

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing and Book Of Hours, Kevin Young
Art is a compendium of the poetry of loss, edited by Young. ‘Hours’ is a collection of Young’s poetry written at the time of his father’s unanticipated death and the birth of his first child.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
A chronicle of the year following the death of her husband, which propelled Didion into a state she calls ‘magical thinking’.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, Francis Weller
Uncommon compassion and clear-eyed discernment are joined in this comprehensive manual for conscious grieving and opening to the unprecedented joy and passion that result from embracing our sorrow.

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.”

NYTimes: The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage, Angela Elson
The Modern Love Podcast: Sterling K. Brown reads ‘My First Son, a Pure Memory’, New York Times
So often, in our society, the loss and grief that accompany a miscarriage or stillbirth go unacknowledged.
The essay and podcast, offer one a path toward ritual and healing.

Critiques of the Modern Funeral Industry

Grave Matters, Mark Harris
Chronicles the environmental costs of embalming and standard burial practices and details a range of alternative burial and cremation options.

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande
Examines the interaction of modern medicine and death, with a critique of the life-extending interventions.

Film and Video

A Family Undertaking, a documentary of a family-directed home funeral.

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

Speaking of Dying: A film About Compassionate Dying. This film captures the importance of individuals and groups sharing their thoughts on end-of-life wishes, and completing the paperwork that will support those wishes in being fulfilled.

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….”