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10 April 2007 @ 11:25 pm
Books for Living and Dying  
The link I used to have here is no longer functional, alas, because the forum went away. But here are some of the titles.

Winona's Web: A Novel of Discovery by Priscilla Cogan...A psycotherapist treats a Native American woman who has decided that she is ready to die soon--by natural causes. The therapist ends up learning from her about the purpose of life and what may lie beyond. A very affirming book, most comforting when I was in the hospital.

The Radiant Coat: Myths and Stories About the Crossing Between Life and Death An audiocassette by Clarrisa Pinkola Estes from Sounds True Recordings, 735 Walnut St, Boulder CO 80302 (All of her work is excellent) Again, very comforting.

Death: The Final Stage of Growth edited by Elisabeth Kubler Ross, MD A collection of essays about death

Also useful for information about the physical changes that happen from different kinds of death:

How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B Nuland I wouldn't call this comforting, but it is informative and he has a whole section on heart disease. What was comforting was a description of sudden cardiac arrest. If one has to die of heart disease, that's the way to go!

Another great book, although geared to cancer patients, but deals a lot with how to live with impending death while you are trying to live, and accept both (and also a lot about how couples deal with terminal illness):

Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber by Ken Wilber, Shambala Books

Advice on Dying by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over by Starhawk and M. Macha NightMare. This last book has some really beautiful poetry that can be appreciated in a non-denominational, universal way. One of the phrases I remember vividly is "You go from love into love."

Talking About Death Won.t Kill You
by Virginia Morris,
Workman Publishing Co., New York, 2001.

I got this book a few weeks ago and really loved it. It opened my eyes to the dilemma people face when they confront various medical situations of their loved ones with only the vague instruction, "I don't want to be on machines." Sometimes those "machines" are needed in a short term situation such as systemic infection. Morris gives a great deal of insight as to how these medical scenarios may play out and some of the specific guidelines you should give your next of kin or what to ask your doctor about in terms of your illness. She also encourages us to define what we believe a "good" death would be and have good communication with doctors and family about our wishes in those regards as well. I really found this book helpful in trying to decide for myself at what point I want to stop medical interventions.

She also co-authored a book on taking care of aging parents: How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris and Robert M. Butler.

And by all means, add some of your own favorites in comments!