On Being Mortal: Books That Deal with Death, Grief, and Loss

By Ai Leng N. RSS Thu, April 5, 2018

Spoiler alert: it's an irrefutable fact that we will all die one day. Whether it's a family member, a beloved pet, or someone we look up to and admire—all will eventually pass away and how we deal with those losses is personal to every one of us.

As with anything as vast as grief and loss, there are many resouces that the library can provide to help patrons learn and deal with that topic. Below are just a sample of support materials we have available through our catalog and databases.

In 2015, Oliver Sacks, who was dying of cancer, wrote a series of essays in the New York Times. His little book, Gratitude; published posthumously, was a comforting read to me. The same year, I read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (2007) as she recounted the year she dealt with familial crisis—Her husband had died suddenly and her daughter ended up gravely sick in the hospital.



Death’s Summer Coat (2015) provides a historical perspective on how people have dealt with death before it became clinical, detached, and fearful in the modern age - A time when death as with birth, is an accepted and intimate part of the human condition.









A new book, Caring for the Dying: The Doula Approach to a Meaningful Death, delves into using a model of care that provides more personal support to the dying and their loved ones.









From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death is the document of mortician Caitlin Doughty travels around the world to see how various cultures care for the dead.










Two books by Sally Balch Hurme provide practical information that can helps you and your loved ones get affairs in order before and after death: Checklist for My Family: A Guide to My History, Financial Plans, and Final Wishes and Checklist for Family Survivors: A Guide to Practical and Legal Matters When Someone You Love Dies.



Finally, in the moving and entertaining film, Departures (2008; Japanese, English subtitled), a young cellist returns to his hometown and unknowingly accepts work as a traditional Japanese ritual mortician.









You can also search our databases for health-related concerning grief and loss.

Look for the above recommendations and more in our catalog or at a neighborhood library near you.

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