On Being, Dying, and Kindness…

Online Resources A free online resource for people thinking about, planning for or living with serious illness and end-of-life issues. A free site compiled by the New York Times offering news about death and dying. Includes commentary and archival articles published in the New York Times. Website for National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Includes information for finding a local hospice organization as well as links to online information and resources.

Books About Dying

Final Gifts:  Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia KelleyThis beautiful book, written by two hospice nurses, leads us through the dying process showing us how to care for our loved ones at each turn.

The American Book of Living and Dying: Lessons in Healing Spiritual Pain, by Richard Groves. This lucid and accessible book teaches about the four ways spiritual pain manifests as we die. With beautiful stories, and a rich appendix of psychological and spiritual tools, we learn how to address the questions of our hearts in ways that will enhance our lives.

Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, by Christine Longaker. This brave book deftly weaves both an Eastern and Western perspective to teach us how to spiritually care for the dying. Guided by ancient traditions, and spiritual teachers, she offers skills, meditations, and an array of ways to emotionally and spiritually care for our loved ones.

The Grace in Dying:  How We Are Transformed Spiritually When We Die, by Kathleen Dowling Singh. This seminal and groundbreaking work offers a transpersonal view of dying. From start to finish, we walk the path of dying, listening to hundreds of stories about ordinary people, who discover self-revelation and a path toward unity as taught by so many spiritual traditions. It is a must read for any professional offering spiritual care to the dying.

Books About Being with Dying

Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying, by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. This spacious book is about loving and dying as told by two old friends asking one another the big questions of living.

Being With Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death, by Joan Halifax. This beautiful book teaches us how to face the unknown and to remain present, even in death. Drawn from decades of personal and professional experience she offers mindful and compassionate ways to be with dying in any setting.

Healing into Life and Death, by Stephen Levine. This book leads us into meditations that open the heart, soften the belly, and experience the vulnerable, messy nature of living. 

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, by John O'Donahue. This book shares the wisdom of having a spiritual friend, who walks with us through the great tasks of life, including death. It is a poignant contemplation about the intimacy of being.

Books about Spiritual Presence and Ritual

Sacred Dying: Creating Rituals for Embracing the End of Life by Megory Anderson. This sublime book teaches us how to create ritual at any time in any setting. The author deftly teaches the nature of ritual inviting us to include such beauty in any aspect of our lives, most especially around the bedside of the dying.

Passionate Presence: Exploring the Seven Qualities of Awakened Awareness, by Catherine Ingram. Cultivated from her studies with spiritual masters around the world, Ingram teaches us the qualities of being present inviting us into the rich landscape of being. 

A Book of Psalms: Selected and Adapted, translated by Stephen Mitchell. I still keep a worn copy of this book in my car for the words exude both an Eastern and Western sensibility for engaging all that lies within any heart. The poetry is spacious, honest, vulnerable and inviting to anyone in any tradition exploring the meaning of life.

Books Contemplating the Meaning of Death

The Final Crossing: Learning to Die in Order to Live, by Scott Eberle. A hospice physician, Eberle tells the story of helping a mentor die by tucking it into the Mayan ritual of the Great Ballcourt. In doing so, he teaches dying as a vision quest of living, naming the necessary steps of plunging into the landscape of our own becoming.

Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, by Stephen and Ondrea Levine.  This classic exploration into the meaning of death, by friends of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross invites us step by step into an inquiry of death's meaning in life.

The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, by Frank Ostaseski. This beautiful book, by the founder of the Zen Hospice Project, is warm, vulnerable, human and inclusive as it invites us to gaze into the mirror of death to ask what it can teach us about life.

Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark by Barbara Hurd. As a poet and naturalist, Hurd takes us on a journey into caves all over the world, to the bedside of her dying friend, and into the caverns of our own hearts to taste the wonder and the sorrow all at once.

Gratitude, by Oliver Saks. As Saks reached the end of his life, he found himself embraced by gratitude. In this small collection of essays he extols this joy invoking a sense of wonder in our own lives. 

Books About Grief

H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald. This New York Times bestseller is the story of a young woman who heals her grief through loving a wild bird. The prose is magnetic, raw, and honest. We too grieve and learn to love once more.

Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, by Kathleen Dean Moore. Wrestling with the loss of a dear friend, Moore walks within the wisdom of nature, listening into the seasonal changes to find an ongoing sense of belonging before the inevitabilities of death. It is a beautiful meditation as well as an invitation to listen deeply to the bounty of nature and find ourselves within the intimacy.

The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation, by Rashani Rea and Francis Weller.  This childlike book of art and quotes is an exquisite invitation to a mind heavy with grief. Each page is a meditation upon the love, wisdom, and joy sharing the same piece of soil with sorrow.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, by Francis Weller. This book is a gift to anyone working through the necessity of sorrow. Whether grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of wild habitats, Weller weaves us into our place within the natural world, the world of all life, and gives us permission to plunge into sorrow as a contemplative prayer of opening the heart.

Sacred Music for Transitions

Mayi, Prema (2010) Sacred Transitions.

Rea, Rashani (1991) Death is a Gateway: Songs for the Sacred Passage.

Rigzin (2015) Transition: A Ceremony of Prayers for the Dead and Dying.

Schroeder-Sheker, Therese (1990) Rosa Mystica. Tucson, AZ, and Munich, Germany:  Celestial Harmonies.

Teaching Programs for Spiritual Care to the Dying

Chalice of Repose Project:  The Voice of Music-Thanatology.

Naropa University - Contemplative End-Of-Life Care Certificate Program.

Sacred Art of Living:  Center for Spiritual Formation - Sacred Art of Living and Dying Program.

Sacred Dying Foundation.

Upaya Institute and Zen Care Organization Center - Being With Dying.

Literary and Art Journals about Death, Dying and Grief

Art of Dying.

Months to Years.

The Grief Dialogues: A New Conversation About Dying, Death and Grief. (This is an organization that promotes storytelling, visual art, music, film, and theatre to encourage a conversation about death, dying and grief.)