For an extended bibliography on all areas of death and dying, see the
NHFA’s book list. Below are Peg's favorite books on
Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death by Lisa
Carlson and Josh Slocum (Hinesburg, VT: Upper Access Books, 2011). Final
Rights is the definitive book for consumers on the modern funeral
industry and how to navigate it. Part investigative report
and part practical guide, the book explains in detail the tricks of the
funeral trade and how to avoid being victimized. For those who wish to take
charge of the funeral themselves without using a funeral home, this book
shows you how, with a chapter on each state’s requirements written in
Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural
Way of Burial, by Mark Harris (Scribner, 2007). Describes the
typical modern funeral, including a thorough description of the embalming
process, then offers alternatives. Each chapter ends with a resource
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory, by
Caitlin Doughty: A young mortician goes behind the scens, unafraid of the
gruesome (and fascinating) details of her curious profession.
Living Into Dying, by Nancy Jewel Poer: A journal of spiritual
and practical deathcare for families and communities.
It’s OK to Die, by Monica Williams-Murphy and Kristian
Murphy: Making medical decisions that allow patients and families to
experience a “good death” while weighing the benefits of
intervention vs. a DNR or AND (allow natural death).
Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death, by Irvin
Yalom: Sharing stories of patients and their anxieties about death.
Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence
of Death, by Joan Halifax: Explores and contemplates the
transformative power of the dying process.
Dealing Creatively with Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple
Burial, by Ernest Morgan: An essential guide for those wishing to
forgo the services of an expensive funeral home.
Going Out Green: One Man's Adventure Planning His Own Natural
Burial, by Bob Butz: An investigative reporter, humorist, and
amateur naturalist writes on planning his own natural burial over 3
Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, by
Katy Butler: The author ponders her parents’ desires for “good
deaths” and the forces within medicine that stood in the way.
Notes from the Waiting Room: Managing a Loved One’s End-of-Life
Hospitalization, by Bart Windrum: Written by a layperson for lay
people, this book provides insights that can save patients’ families
angst and heartache that can linger for years afterward.