“I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
– Woody Allen
Facing how to handle someone’s life to dying experience can be daunting. Finding the appropriate resources to assist you is also time consuming. We are providing you with a list of references and resources that may help you on your way, including books, movies, companies, hospices, health care organizations, and other websites that offer a sense of inspiration and practical information you need. This will be an ongoing, growing resource list for you.
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Books to Read
On Death and Dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy and their own families by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Published 1969.
A ground-breaking, pioneering book on death and dying, where Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, interviews more than 200 patients facing their own deaths, finding a common thread that each patient experiences, identifying 5 stages of death and dying they all shared. This book brought death out of the darkness and helped to manage the experience of the death and dying experience in a more illuminating manner, allowing one to understand that dying is a natural part of living and the process that one goes through.
Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life by Dr. Ira Byock. Published 1997.
Through the stories of his patients, Dr. Byock teaches us how to live, so that dying well becomes a natural part of living. Being one of the most renowned experts on hospice and palliative care, Dr. Ira Byock shows us that even though many people want to die peacefully at home, surrounded by their loved ones, it doesn’t always turn out that way. This is a must read for anyone questioning the possibility that one can go through a meaningful and enriching end of life experience.
Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. David Kessler. Published 2000.
These two experts dive right into the nature of living. I highly recommend reading this, as they talk about facing a life-threatening illness, discovering the essence of who we are that will transcend our experience of being a physical body. Even if we are no longer able to walk, talk or communicate, we, as a unique human being, remain… even when others see us in the past tense. Knowing who we are allows us to feel complete.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Published 2002.
This was one of the very first books I read when I entered the end of life field. It is rich with inspiration, illuminating an introduction to the practice of meditation, the nature of mind, and talks about karma and rebirth. What I found riveting was how loving and compassionate the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is towards the love and care for the dying. It is comprehensive, practical and contains a wisdom that is grounded, addressing fears we all may face about death and dying. Sogyal Rinpoche’s purpose in writing this book was to educate people not to be afraid of death or of life, wanting every human being to die at peace, surrounded by the wisest, clearest and most tender caring people, finding the ultimate happiness that can only come from an understanding of the nature of mind and of reality.
Urgent Whispers, Care of the Dying by Jerral Sapienza. Published 2002.
Being present for a friend or loved one in their final days can be challenging emotionally, and can be overwhelming, and at the same time, an opportunity to look at our own lives, reordering our priorities and gaining a different perspective on day to day living. It’s an opportunity for us to glean meaning from the seeming chaos and disorder, and to just be present, to be able to listen, and to care. This book is about how to care for a friend and loved one during this time, offering guidance to understand how we can truly serve in a way that helps better understand the process of death and dying. The book is written to provide help, guidance and alternative interpretations for what may be going on and what may be expected from us, as friends and caregivers.
Movies for the Soul
Using the artistic vision of screen writers, this is a list of films that address the tender issues of life and death. Allow yourself to experience anything that comes up for you. Perhaps you may choose to answer for yourself the question at the end of each blurb.
Defending Your Life with Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks – a 1991 romantic comedy-fantasy film about a man who dies and arrives in the afterlife only to find that he must stand trial and justify his lifelong fears to advance to the next phase of life; or be sent back to earth to do it again.
Q. How are you living your own life?
The Intouchables – Inspired by a true story, this comedy-drama is about affluent paraplegic Philippe (François Cluzet) who develops an unexpectedly close bond with his gruff aide, Driss (Omar Sy).
Q. How are you around people who are dying, or people who are unable to be active in the way they used to be? How are you when you get sick? Does your attitude change?
Family Stone with Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker. The story of the Stone family who unites due to a secret the mother (Diane Keaton) is carrying and wants to share with her family. When her favorite son brings his uptight girlfriend home for the Christmas holiday, with plans of proposing, everything gets chaotic. Overwhelmed by the hostile reception, she begs her sister to join her for emotional support, triggering further complications.
Q. What do you do when someone you love tells you they are dying?
New Year ’s Eve – All-star cast of people coming together on New Year’s Eve. (I don’t want to give it away).
Q. Could you consider making a small resolution that you think you can keep?
The Bucket List – Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star as two terminally ill cancer patients who decide to break out of the hospital and live their last days to the fullest.
Q. Is there one item that you can fulfill now?
Now is Good – A girl dying of leukemia compiles a list of things she’d like to do before passing away. Topping the list is her desire to lose her virginity.
Q. What personal pleasure would you like to experience before it’s your time to go?
More movie suggestions to come.
Death and Dying Educational Trainings/Organizations:
- Afterlife Conference
- Art of Dying Institute
- Association for Death Education & Counseling (ADEC)
- Death Cafes
- End of Life University
- Good to Go! Parties
- Going with Grace
- International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying
- Metta Institute, Frank Ostaseski, San Francisco
- National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)
- Orphan Wisdom, Stephen Jenkinson, Canada
- Sacred Crossings
- Sacred Singing, Presence Tarika Brandt
- Soul Diving Institute
- The Twilight Brigade, Los Angeles, CA
- The Four Winds Society
- Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Highly Recommended Hospices in Los Angeles
- Assisted Home Health & Hospice, Los Angeles
- Care One Hospice, Tarzana
- Charnock Residential Home, Palms
- Hospice Touch, Culver City
- Mid Valley Hospice, Sherman Oaks
- Mission Hospice, Pasadena
- Pacific Hospice Care, Mid-Wilshire
- Raya’s Paradise, West Hollywood
- True Care Hospice, Canoga Park
- Verdugo Hospice Care Center, Los Angeles
International Organizations that Support Death, Dying and Afterlife Conversations
Alternative and Traditional Funeral Homes
- Cremation: Neptune Society
- Friends Funeral Home
- Green Burial Council
- Home Funeral Alliance
- Sacred Crossings, Conscious Dying and Home Funeral Services
- Undertaking LA
Medical Marijuana/Cannabis Information
- Americans for Safe Access, Advancing Legal Medical Marijuana Therapeutics and Research
- Mayo Clinic
- Medical Marijuana 411
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- National Institute of Health
- ProCon.org, The Leading Source for Pros & Cons of Controversial Issues
- The National Academies Press
- United Patients Group