Whether someone is vegan or not, all of us one day end up ‘pushing up daisies’. To help someone who is dying often is very hard, especially if he or she is someone you know or love. But how can we help, in a country that tends to shove old and sick people away in homes, out of sight and out of mind?
In other countries, death is far more public. People in the East are never shocked at seeing a dead body, and Buddhist monks often go and look at dead bodies in the morgue, to meditate on death. It may sound gory, but it’s about accepting death. Because we don’t accept it here, it’s pushed away, and those who die suffer as a result.
- The Lost Art of Dying argues that our lives do not have to end in sterile units with intrusive interventions. We are not going gently into that good night – as reliance on modern medicine can sometimes prolong suffering, and strip us of our dignity. Centuries ago, a text was published offering advice to help the living prepare for a good death ‘ars moriendi’. It made clear we should live well and then die well. The author uncovered this Medieval book and inspired by its holistic approach to the final stage that we all face, she draws from this forgotten work and combines its wisdom with knowledge gleaned from her medical work.
- The Top Five Regrets of the Dying is by hospice worker Bronnie, who has been with dying people for many years, in their thousands. She found that nearly all of them had the same five regrets, and wrote this book to share. You can imagine what they are (should have worked less, loved life more, good friends.
- Life, Death, Whatever is by a joint effort of a writer and funeral directory, who share sad, surprising and uplifting stories, revealing lessons they have learned from love and loss. We are all going to die and that’s ok. So let’s talk about it. This is a book about life and living, as much about death and dying. A reflection on the beauty, blessings and tragedies of life and the fragility of what we hold dear.
- The Art of Dying Well is packed with helpful insights and inspiring true stories, on how to age well, pick a younger doctor and how to make your death a sacred rite of passage, rather than a medical event. Based on the author’s experience of caring for aging parents, this empowering guide clearly outlines the steps to prepare for a beautiful death.
Miles to Go Before I Sleep is the story of Claire Gilbert who was diagnosed with incurable blood cancer age 54. With no guarantee if she will survive a few months or years, she discovered her own mortality was liberating. She wrote letters and wrote what she was going through, including isolation in the pandemic. And the restorative nature of nature, politcs, poetry and humour. A restless exploration of the spiritual dimension of death and dying. A deeply spiritual meditation on life and suffering, and how faith is no simple solace but provides a whole new plane of meaning during these moments.