existential philosopher and medical ethicist
Listed in general order
The red comments are the evaluations of this reviewer.
by James Leonard Park
Jane Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond:
A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones
Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally for the End of Life
(New York: Random House,
2009) 287 pages
(ISBN: 978-1-4000-6654-4; hardback)
(Library of Congress call number: R726.2.B76 2009)
Well known as a food and health writer,
Jane Brody takes on a subject usually left to chance and tradition:
How will we face our own deaths?
This book is based on
in many other books on each of the subjects discussed:
Advance Directives for Medical Care,
funerals or memorial services,
dealing with final diseases,
when we might be unconscious,
futile medical treatment,
locations for dying,
religious issues at the end of life,
the deaths of children,
discussing impending death,
doctors who disappear when terminal care begins,
choosing death instead of waiting for the end,
dealing with the grief of losing a loved one,
organ and tissue donation,
what will we leave behind?
Jane Brody explores all
these issues for ordinary readers.
We will all benefit from following her advice.
She offers examples of people who were poorly prepared for death.
The title was probably
selected by the publisher.
Nothing in this book deals with another realm beyond earthly life.
Even if there is no "Great Beyond",
we can all benefit from the wise preparations in this book
for dealing with everything that will happen in the last year of the life of each reader.
And even before we ourselves come to the end of our lives,
we will probably deal with at least a few other people who will die before us.
How prepared will we be for life to come to an end?
Love & Death:
My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow
(Boston, MA: Beacon Press:
www.beacon.com, 2008) 145 pages
(ISBN: 978-0-8070-7293-6; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: BX9855.C48 2008)
A well-known Unitarian Universalist minister
faces his own coming death from cancer.
This book collects all his best thinking and best sermons
concerning the largest questions of life and death.
There are no simple answers, such as life-after-death.
But we are led thru all of the changes he and his family experienced
as he paced out his last few months of life.
This book is philosophical and
spiritual rather than practical.
But it does deal in depth with one person's journey into death.
3. Joanne Lynn, MD & Joan Harrold, MD
Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness
(New York: Oxford
Press: www.oup.com, 1999) 242 pages
(ISBN: 0-19-511662-3; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: R726.8.H353 1999)
Affairs in Order:
A Complete Resource Guide for Death and Dying
(New York: Macmillan,
1991) 315 pages
Everything you need to do in preparing for your own
or the death of someone else.
Concise, thoughtful, undogmatic, open-minded, informative,
and full of alternatives for every choice we must make.
Annotated bibliography for further reading in each chapter.
Chapters on: estate wills; disposition of remains;
'living wills' and other advance medical planning; deciding for others;
definitions of death; merciful death and voluntary death;
locations for dying (hospital, nursing home, hospice);
caring for the dead body; final business affairs; grief and bereavement.
The best single source for planning for death.
Thomas A. Preston, MD
Taking Charge of the Last Stages of Life,
Facing Death on Your Own Terms
(Roseville, CA: Prima
2000) 252 pages
(ISBN: 0-7615-2899-7; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: R726.8.P73 2000)
Preparing for the last stages of life and the process of dying:
Becoming emotionally and physically ready to die.
Making final emotional and interpersonal adjustments.
Finding the best helpers for the final days.
Getting the best control of the symptoms associated with dying.
Discussing your end-of-life plans with everyone concerned.
Saying your most meaningful good-byes.
Physical, emotional, & interpersonal changes to expect at the end.
6. Dan Morhaim, MD
The Better End:
Surviving (and Dying) on Your Own Terms
in Today's Medical World
(Baltimore, MD: Johns
Hopkins University Press: www.press.jhu.edu,
2012) 150 pages
(ISBN: 978-1-4214-0417-2; hardcover)
(ISBN: 978-1-4214-0418-9; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: R726.M692 2012)
(Medical call number: W85.5M853b 2012)
A physician who is also a state legislator
offers some easy-to-understand advice about getting ready to die.
He encourages everyone to create an Advance Directive for Medical Care.
The best parts of the book are probably the chapters
that describe the last days of several real patients.
Those who did not prepare were handled according to standard medical practice.
But those who had planned in advance were able to die well.
This is a brief
book, but it touches many bases,
which should empower us, the readers, to begin thinking about
what pathways we want to follow as we approach death.
7. Judith Ahronheim, MD & Doron Weber
Positive Choices for the Dying and Their Loved Ones
(New York: Simon &
very helpful book for thinking about end-of-life
filled with real-life illustrations of people who prepared well for death
—and others who did not.
(1) Becoming serious and verbal about our own deaths;
(2) Improving communications among doctors, patient, & family;
(This chapter also includes discussion of
the most common causes of death.);
(3) The right-to-die and irrational suicide,
including physician involvement in ending life;
(4) Pain control and comfort care;
(5) Clinical depression upon facing death—and treating it;
(6) Natural shutting down of the body as death approaches;
(8) Living wills;
(9) Financial problems and planning for terminal care,
nursing homes, & death;
(10) Emotional responses to the prospect of dying.
Someone You Love is Dying:
A Guide for Helping and Coping
(New York: Harmony
1975) 291 pages
practical book examining all of the issues
faced by the dying and their families:
feelings, finances, telling the truth about dying, miracle cures, pain,
family problems, dying at home, funerals, bereavement, life after death.
Easy to read, most helpful for people
who have not seriously faced these issues before.
Many good illustrations drawn from the lives
of dying patients and their families.
Patricia Weenolsen, PhD
The Art of Dying:
How to Leave This World with Dignity and Grace,
at Peace with Yourself and Your Loved Ones
(New York: St.
1996) 299 pages
(ISBN: 0-312-14278-1; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: BF789.D4W34 1996)
author is a psychologist with
dealing with the issues surrounding death and dying.
This wide-ranging book raises all the most important questions.
And when the right questions are asked,
that does not limit the depth of the replies we can make.
Large parts of
the book are really about coping with illness and disability
rather than preparing for death.
The book is popular and optimistic in tone.
And some readers will find the answers to be superficial.
But it is always worth raising the questions.
Check the table of contents on the Internet
for a good overview of The Art of Dying.
11. Melvin J. Krant, MD
Dying and Dignity: The Meaning and Control of a Personal Death
C. Thomas, 1974)
wise and compassionate book.
Dr. Krant examines all the personal issues surrounding death:
the ways we normally die in hospitals, the denials, the doctors,
family problems, euthanasia, seeking better ways to die.
Well-written and non-technical.
12. Ernest Morgan
Dealing Creatively with Death:
A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial
(Burnsville, NC: Celo Press, 1984—10th Edition) 156 pages
Brief discussions of: death education; modes and
places of dying;
bereavement; the right to die; simple burial and cremation;
memorial societies; death ceremonies.
13. David E. Outerbridge & Alan R. Hersh MD
Easing the Passage:
A Guide for Prearranging and Ensuring
a Pain-Free and Tranquil Death
via a Living Will, Personal Medical Mandate,
and Other Medical, Legal, and Ethical Resources
(New York: HarperCollins, 1991) 162 pages
first 1/3 of this book deals with the need
for advance planning,
with examples of what happens to people
without advance directives for medical care.
Besides the matters mentioned in the sub-title, the book covers:
patient rights; right-to-die; pain-control;
comfort while dying; & family physicians.
14. Stephen S. Rosenfeld
The Time of Their Dying
(New York: Norton, 1977) 189 pages
editorial writer for the Washington Post
tells step-by-step of the deaths of both of his parents from cancer,
within 5 months of each other.
Both were permitted to die at home.
A very human document. Recommended.
Advance Directives for Medical Care
Books on Voluntary Death
Best Books on Preparing for Death
Books on Terminal Care
Books on Helping Patients to Die
Books on the Right-to-Die
Books Opposing the Right-to-Die
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