BOOKS ABOUT DEATH
Interested in reading more about death and dying? Here is a list of some books we enjoyed that look at various aspects of the topic. Of course, this list is not exhaustive and there are many more great writings in this field - get in touch and let us know your favourites.
From Here to Eternity - Caitlyn Doughty
As a practising mortician, Caitlin Doughty has long been fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies. In From Here to Eternity, she sets out in search of cultures unburdened by such fears. With curiosity and morbid humour, Doughty introduces us to inspiring death-care innovators, participates in powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in the West and explores new spaces for mourning - including a futuristic glowing-Buddha columbarium in Japan, a candlelit Mexican cemetery and America's only open-air pyre. In doing so she expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity and reveals unexpected possibilities for our own death rituals.
With the End in Mind - Katherine Mannix
With the End in Mind is a book for us all: the grieving and bereaved, the ill and the healthy. By turns touching and tragic, funny and wise, it tells powerful human stories of life and death. Eric, the retired head teacher who even with Motor Neurone Disease gets things done. Sylvie, 19 and diagnosed with leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hold after she has died. Nelly and Joe, two people enduring loneliness to shield their beloveds from distress. A powerful and emotional book based on a lifetime's clinical experience, With the End in Mind offers calm, wise advice on how to face death, live fully and find a model for hope in dark times.
A Tomb With a View - Peter Ross
Enter a grave new world of fascination and delight as award-winning journalist Peter Ross uncovers the stories and glories of graveyards. Who are London's outcast dead and why is David Bowie their guardian angel? What is it about a Bristol graveyard that makes it the perfect wedding venue for goths? Who was Peter the Wild Boy and why are people still leaving flowers at his grave centuries after his death? What is the remarkable truth about Phoebe Hessel, the woman who disguised herself as a man to fight alongside her sweetheart, and went on to live in the reigns of five monarchs?
All of these sorrowful mysteries - and many more - are answered in A Tomb With A View, a tale for anyone who has ever wandered through a field of crooked headstones and wondered about the lives and deaths of those who lie beneath.
Grief Demystified - Caroline Lloyd
Being able to offer support to the bereaved is an important part of many frontline professions, such as nurses, teachers, funeral directors and anything in between. Yet very little theoretical information about grief has filtered down into mainstream knowledge, and what has is often misinterpreted.Giving an accessible introduction to modern day grief theory, this book is the perfect guide to grief for the lay reader, or griever curious to how their grief works. Debunking commonly believed myths with information on how grief can vary from person to person, advice on communicating with the bereaved and details on the different kinds of grief, this book is an essential read for anyone working with the bereaved.
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and finally into a patient and a new father. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?
Badger's Parting gifts - Susan Varley
When Badger dies, his friends are very sad, but one by one, they recall the special things he gave them during his lifetime. By sharing these fond memories, they realise that although he is no longer with them physically, he will always be in their hearts. A successful book that deals gently and clearly with issues of loss and death for young children.
Death - Shelly Kagan
There is one thing we can be sure of: we are all going to die. But once we accept that fact, the questions begin. In this thought-provoking book, philosophy professor Shelly Kagan examines the myriad questions that arise when we confront the meaning of mortality. Written in an informal and conversational style, this stimulating and provocative book challenges many widely held views about death, as it invites the reader to take a fresh look at one of the central features of the human condition―the fact that we will die.
All That Remains - Sue Black
Sue Black confronts death every day. As a Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology, she focuses on mortal remains in her lab, at burial sites, at scenes of violence, murder and criminal dismemberment, and when investigating mass fatalities due to war, accident or natural disaster. In All That Remains she reveals the many faces of death she has come to know, using key cases to explore how forensic science has developed, and examining what her life and work has taught her.
Waiting For the Last Bus - Richard Holloway
Former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway has spent a lifetime at the bedsides of the dying, guiding countless men and women towards peaceful deaths. In The Last Bus, he presents a positive, meditative and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn from death: facing up to the limitations of our bodies as they falter, reflecting on our failings, and forgiving ourselves and others. But in a modern world increasingly wary of acknowledging mortality, The Last Bus is also a stirring plea to reacquaint ourselves with death. Facing and welcoming death gives us the chance to think about not only the meaning of our own life, but of life itself; and can mean the difference between ordinary sorrow and unbearable regret at the end.
Outside the Box - Liz Rothschild
We live in a society where people struggle to look death in the eye. Death has become the territory of professionals and we rarely see a dead body, unless it is someone very close to us. Death has become hidden, and so more traumatic. This book shows that, if we start talking openly about death, it can change the way we live. It is a collection of stories and images about death, dying and bereavement. People from all walks of life share their experiences and what they have learned from accompanying others. Heartbreaking, angry, questioning and contradictory - laugh-aloud funny, even - the stories illuminate, inspire, reassure and inform. They are accompanied by commentaries from professionals working in end-of-life planning, health, bereavement and funeral care.