Dying resources

Teachings, stories and practical wisdom for those accompanying someone who is dying – An intimate conversation with Frank Ostaseski. Audio CD, 3 hours   www.zenhospice.org/prod/education/compassionate-companion-cd

BEING WITH DYING Contemplative Practices and Teachings Joan Halifax from Sounds True:   www.soundstrue.com/shop/Being-with-Dying/456.productdetails

Being with Dying

Graceful Passages: A Companion for Living & Dying (Gary Malkin and Michael Stillwater, 2000, New World Library) Over 100,000 copies in use throughout America and across the world. An award-winning resource in hospice and clinic environments: www.wisdomoftheworld.com

Dear to my heart because it was my first experience: In the Heart Lies the Deathless by Stephen Levine, available at Sounds True recordings.

On Our Own Terms – Bill Moyers PBS series on dying in the US, available at the public library – explores the challenges of balancing medical intervention with care and comfort at the end of life. The website www.pbs.org/wnet/onourownterms/ explores the options for humane care for the dying.

Highly recommended to me – I haven’t read it yet: Final Gifts: Understanding the special awareness, needs and commnications of the dying, by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly. “hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending the terminally ill. Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments; we also discover the gifts—of wisdom, faith, and love—that the dying leave for the living to share.”

Another hospice classic: Gone from My Sight: The Dying Experience by Barbara Karnes    www.gonefrommysight.com/

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path To a Better Way of Death: Journalist Katy Butler had an essay in the Wall Street Journal the other day, “The Ultimate End-of-Life Plan: How one woman fought the medical establishment and avoided what most Americans fear: prolonged, plugged-in suffering.” The article is adapted from her book, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.” Just one excerpt:

“Why don’t we die the way we say we want to die? In part because we say we want good deaths but act as if we won’t die at all. In part because advanced lifesaving technologies have erased the once-bright line between saving a life and prolonging a dying. In part because saying “Just shoot me” is not a plan. Above all, we’ve forgotten what our ancestors knew: that preparing for a “good death” is not a quickie process to save for the panicked ambulance ride to the emergency room. The decisions we make and refuse to make long before we die help determine our pathway to the final reckoning. In the movie “Little Big Man,” the Indian chief Old Lodge Skins says, as he goes into battle, “Today is a good day to die.” My mother lived the last six months of her life that way, and it allowed her to claim a version of the good death our ancestors prized.”

Posted by Gary Schwitzer in End of life care, Health care journalism