Leaving On My Own Terms - Bibliography

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The American Way of Death Revisited
Author: Jessica Mitford
Narrator: Kimberly Schraf
In this revision of 1963's The American Way of Death (DB021457), the author examines corruption in the funeral industry. Presents the large chains and the myths they propagate to obtain wealth. Discusses the history of funerals, cremation, and the role of the Federal Trade Commission. Includes a directory of nonprofit funeral and memorial societies by state. 1998. DB047523

An Arrow through the Heart: One Woman's Story of Life, Love, and Surviving a Near-fatal Heart Attack
Author: Deborah Daw Heffernan
Narrator: Gillian Green
Inspirational tale of recovery from sudden heart failure from which the author almost dies at the age of forty-four. Explains illness and disability from a patient's point of view and describes the changes in relationships that result when death is a daily possibility. 2002. DB056006

A Beautiful Death: Facing the Future with Peace
Author: Cheryl Eckl
Narrator: Cheryl Eckl
Cheryl Eckl is unexpectedly forced to host life's most unwelcome guest when her husband, Stephen, is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a few short years to live. She shows that we all have the inner resources to face death, and the future, with peace. In fact, she says, when we are properly prepared this experience, while rarely easy, can be profoundly beautiful. A Beautiful Death is a compassionate and honest approach to death as an integral part of life--how to think about it, talk about it, and prepare for it. DBC00651

Being Mortal: Medicine and what Matters in the End
Author: Atul Gawande
Narrator: Gary Telles
Surgeon and author of Complications (DB 56061) and The Checklist Manifesto (DB 70422) examines the state of end-of-life care in the twenty-first century. Discusses medical advances which have extended life expectancy, limited training of physicians to discuss mortality with patients and family members, and ways to be honest. Bestseller. 2014. DB080380 & PR023494

A Better Way of Dying: How to Make the Best Choices at the End of Life
Author: Jeanne Fitzpatrick.
Advanced directives and living wills have improved our ability to dictate end-of-life care, but even these cannot guarantee us the dignity of a natural death. Designed by two sisters--one a doctor, one a lawyer--who draw on decades of experience, outline the five-step Compassion Protocol that offers a simple and effective framework for leaving caretakers concrete, unambiguous, and legally binding instructions about your wishes for your last days. 2010. PR018931

Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung
Author: Martha Mason
Narrator: Gabriella Cavallero
Quadriplegic journalist describes enjoying friendships, books, and a career despite needing an eight-hundred-pound iron lung for sixty-one years. Details her childhood, her brother's polio diagnosis and death at age thirteen, and contracting polio herself at age eleven--just days after his funeral. Recounts excelling in college with her mother's aid. 2003. DB072767

Conscious living, Concious Aging: Embrace and Savor your Next Chapter
Author: Ron Pevny
No longer satisfied with a quiet life of sitting on the porch or puttering around the house, retirees are looking to create a passionate, active, fulfilled, and engaging later life. That's where Ron Pevny comes in. His inspiring guide helps you do what he calls "conscious aging" -realizing the life of growth, purpose, service, and spiritual exploration you've always imagined for yourself. Today's seniors are reshaping what retirement is all about: a whole new opportunity to engage with family, community, and the world with vigor. 2015. PR023312

Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life
Author: Ira Byock
Narrator: Butch Hoover
A holistic approach to dealing with the physical and emotional pain of terminal illness. Based on his years as a hospice physician, the author provides the tools he considers necessary to make the passage from life to death a tranquil experience. DB044656 & PR021023

The End of Your Life Book Club
Author: Will Schwalbe
Narrator: Erik Sandvold
Journalist and publishing professional chronicles the conversations he had with his mother as he accompanied her on treatments for advanced pancreatic cancer. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love the book is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others. Discusses books such as Crossing to Safety (DB 49441), The Hobbit (DB 48978), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (DB 67759), and others. Bestseller. 2012. DB075762 & PR020634

The Final Crossing: Learning to Die in order to Live
Author: Scott Eberle
Narrator: TBD
The personal account of "the final crossing" of Steven Foster - one of the pioneers of modern-day wilderness rites of passage - from the perspective of the hospice physician who helped ferry him across. "This is an extraordinarily wise and compassionate book written by a physician of the body and the heart. In this beautifully written account of the death of his beloved teacher and friend we can discover the great mystery of meeting death as a teacher and friend. This book is for all of us. Its depths plumb ours, its wisdom opens ours, and the compassion of its author reminds us that this quality resides in all of us." - Joan Halifax Roshi 2006. DBC03054

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying
Author: Maggie Callanan
Narrator: TBD
Hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life. When someone we love is terminally ill, we are often unprepared to deal with the experience. But the dying have much to tell and give us. Final Gifts teaches us how to recognize and decode the often symbolic communications of those on the verge of death. 1992. DBC02999

A Grief Observed
Author: CS Lewis
Narrator: Phil Regensdorf
Lewis, the Oxford don whose Christian apologetics make it seem like he's got an answer for everything, experienced crushing doubt for the first time after his wife's tragic death. An intensely personal account of the author's wife's death written with love, humility, and faith. It is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings. 1963. BR005703 & DB021646

Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life and Vegetables
Author: Joan Dye Gussow
Narrator: Stephanie Briggs
This memoir begins when the author loses her husband of 40 years to cancer and 2 weeks later finds herself skipping down the street - much to her alarm. With humor and wit, she explains how she stopped worrying about why she was smiling and went on worrying, instead, and as she always has, about the possibility that the world around her was headed off a cliff. But hers is not a message of gloom. Rather it is an affirmation of a life's work - and work in general. 2010. DBC03059

H Is for Hawk
Author: Helen Macdonald
Narrator: TBD
Cambridge lecturer describes the year she spent training a goshawk, a decision she came to after the sudden death of her father in 2007. Discusses the field of falconry, which her father avidly practiced, the grieving process, and author T.H. White's book The Goshawk (DB 42687). Bestseller. 2014. DB081386

Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness
Author: Joan K. Harrold
Narrator: Rick Rohan
Physicians offer practical advice to caretakers and patients on planning both medical and emotional responses to cases of severe illness. Topics include coping techniques, family matters, sudden death, mourning and grieving, and enduring losses. Suggests steps that help prepare for the future and lists organizations that can provide information and assistance. 1999. DB048469

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
Author: Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent
Narrator: Andy Pyle
Burpo, a pastor in Nebraska, relates the 2003 experiences reported by his three-year-old son Colton, who believes that during an emergency appendectomy he died, went to heaven, and returned to life. Colton describes seeing Jesus, angels, and deceased relatives. Bestseller. 2010. Adult Nonfiction. DB072633, DB074966 - Spanish & PR019284

Intoxicated by my Illness and Other Writings on Life and Death
Author: Anatole Broyard
Narrator: Ed Blake
During the fourteen months that the author lived after his diagnosis of prostate cancer, he wrote these essays on the human condition. Included too are earlier articles on literature, style, life, illness, and death--subjects on which Broyard often reflected. Paraphrasing another writer, Broyard says that this book is "to make sure I'll be alive when I die." 1992. DB036681

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal
Author: Rachel Naomi Remen, MD.
Narrator: Camille McCurty Ali
Remen recalls times when relatives and friends shared wisdom as they sat around the kitchen table and swapped stories. In this tradition, she has selected the most meaningful stories from her thirty-five years of medical practice as a source of healing and inspiration. Bestseller. 1996. DB044852 & PR002586

Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
Author: Katy Butler
Katy Butler's parents had lived good lives and hoped to die good deaths. One succeeded; one failed. The book describing their final journeys -- a visionary blend of memoir and investigative reporting -- is a map through the medical labyrinth for the 28 million Americans helping care for aging parents. Butler, an award-winning journalist, was living thousands of miles away when her vigorous and self-reliant seventy-nine-year-old father suffered a crippling stroke. She flew East and became thoroughly embroiled in her parents' lives. 2013. PR021535

The Last Lecture
Authors: Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
Narrator: John Polk
Carnegie Mellon computer professor Pausch provides personal lessons and stories for his young children to learn from as they go through life. Continues the message of his widely circulated taped lecture on achieving childhood dreams that he delivered after he learned he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Bestseller. 2008. DB066601, BR017828 & PR016852

Life Lessons
Authors: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
Many years of working with the dying have shown the authors that certain lessons come up over and over again. Some of these lessons are enormously difficult to master, but even the attempts to understand them can be deeply rewarding. Here, in fourteen accessible chapters, from "the Lesson of Love" to "the Lesson of Happiness," the authors reveal the truth about our fears, our hopes, our relationships, and, above all, about the grandness of who we really are. 2000. PR009796

Living with Death and Dying
Author: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
Narrator: John Richardson
Author of On Death and Dying (DB047351), a physician, suggests ways in which the death of a family member can be a positive, meaningful experience--even for children. She advocates open expressions of feelings of denial, fear, anger, and guilt to help people face the imminent loss of a loved one. 1997. DB048207

The Long Goodbye
Author: Meghan O'Rourke
In this eloquent, somber memoir about the death of her mother and grieving aftermath, poet and journalist O'Rourke ponders the eternal human question: how do we live with the knowledge that we will one day die? 2012. PR019509

Love is a Mix Tape: Live and Loss, One Song at a Time
Author: Rob Sheffield
Narrator: Bruce Lundeen
A contributing editor at Rolling Stone Magazine mourns the punk rock Appalachian girl he loved for seven years - and who died in his arms - as he recalls the playlists on his favorite mix tapes. 2007. DBC03931

Map of Heaven
Authors: Eben Alexander and Ptolemy Tompkins
After Proof of Heaven was published, Dr. Eben Alexander heard from thousands of individuals whom his story affected. He studied what the world's religious traditions, and its philosophers, have said about the soul's survival of death, often surprised that those voices were in synch. 2015. PR023461 & DBC03090 - in process

On Death and Dying
Author: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Narrator: Jill Ferris
A physician and psychiatrist contends that societal changes have created a fear of death at a time when the aging population needs to understand and contend with it. The doctor summarizes coping mechanisms that help terminally ill people to achieve acceptance and to find hope. Discusses family issues and therapy. 1997. DB047351

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss
Author: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Shortly before her death in 2004, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, her collaborator, completed the manuscript for this, her final book - a fitting completion to her work. Kubler-Ross's groundbreaking work On Death and Dying changed the way we think and talk about the end of life. Weaving together theory, inspiration, and practical advice, this book will profoundly influence the way we experience the process of grief. 2006. PR015017

Prime Time
Author: Jane Fonda
Narrator: Martha Harmon Pardee
Seventy-four-year-old actress, activist, and work-out guru offers tips for making the most of what she calls Act III of life, which begins at age sixty. Lists eleven ingredients of successful aging, including reflecting on one's past, caring about the bigger picture, being physically active, and eating healthfully. Bestseller. 2011. DB073811 & PR019433

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
Author: Eben Alexander
Narrator: Jon Huffman.
Account of fifty-four-year-old Harvard-educated neurosurgeon Alexander and his 2008 recovery from a coma induced by bacterial meningitis. Describes his near-death experience--including a feeling of unconditional love and acceptance--that convinced him of the existence of heaven and a personal God. Bestseller. 2012. DB075791 & PR021047

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
Author and Narrator: Anne Lamott
A collection of new and selected essays on hope, joy, grace, faith, family, and community. 2014. DB080027, BR020600 & PR023177

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Narrator: TBD
Mortician and star of the online video series "Ask a Mortician" recounts her entry in to the field as a twenty-something degree holder in medieval history and ruminates on the state of the social acceptance of death in twenty-first century America. Advocates increased responsibility in managing personal death rites. 2014. DB080041, BR020548 & PR023313

Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Author: Mary Roach
Narrator: Kimberly Schraf
Journalist explores the role of dead bodies in science's "boldest strides and weirdest undertakings" throughout history and the twentieth century. Describes such productive, sometimes bizarre, uses for corpses as testing guillotines, studying plane and car crashes, and experimenting with organ transplants, plastic surgery, and other medical procedures. Bestseller. 2003. DB058302 & PR013433

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
Author: Sogyal Rinpoche; Patrick Gaffney; Andrew Harvey
Narrator: Gordon Gould
Buddhist spiritual leader Rinpoche maintains that most westerners need a fundamental change in attitude towards death and dying-- they need to understand the truth of impermanence. He discusses practicing to prepare for death and helping others with death. He stresses his belief in the importance of the dying person's last thoughts being filled with positive emotions and sacred feelings while the person lets go of grasping, yearning, and attachment. 2012. DB036890 & BR009358

Tuesdays with Morrie
Author: Mitch Albom
Narrator: Ray Hagen
Some twenty years after college, Mitch Albom rekindles his relationship with a former professor who is terminally ill. His weekly visits with his dying mentor become a colloquium on the meaning of life, and Albom gains insight into "love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death." Bestseller. 1997. DB044849, BR012800 & PR008647

What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying
Author: Karen Wyatt
Narrator: TBD
This collection of stories from the files of a hospice physician reveals the end-of-life wisdom of several dying patients and their families. Profound life lessons change the perspective of the doctor and the reader, as well, toward suffering, life and death. By focusing attention on "what really matters" this book encourages the reader to embrace the suffering that occurs throughout life and utilize it as a catalyst for growth and change. DBC03077

When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Narrator: TBD
On the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, the author was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Kalanithi wrote about his own experience with dying to help others face their mortality. His wife's epilogue follows his 2015 death. Bestseller. 2015. PR024348 & DB083643 - in process

When is it Right to Die? Suicide, Euthanasia, Suffering, Mercy
Author: Joni Eareckson Tada
Narrator: Marilyn Gleason
Concerned about the growing controversy over the right to die, Tada, a quadriplegic writer, artist, and national disability advocate with strong religious convictions, uses her story and the experiences of others to explain her own views. Fearing that legalizing euthanasia would be "like taking a crowbar to Pandora's box," Tada advises those considering death: "Don't give up. This life is not over yet." 1992. DB037685

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Author: Pema Chödrön
Narrator: Gabriella Cavallero
American Buddhist nun describes how to apply her religion's philosophy to achieve happiness. Explains how to communicate, experience difficult emotions, and become compassionate using eight worldly dharma or basic Buddhist beliefs. 1997. DB053374 & DB076987 - Spanish

A Widow's Story
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Narrator: Madelyn Buzzard
Prolific author Oates details the unexpected death of Ray Smith, her husband of forty-six years, and her bereavement experience. Relates an overnight hospital stay that became a death vigil and discusses her struggle to face widowhood, her insomnia and reliance on prescription drugs, and the solace of her friendships. 2011. DB073249 & PR019346

The Year of Magical Thinking
Author: Joan Didion
Narrator: Anne Hancock
Writer reflects on her emotional response to the unexpected death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, after a visit to their comatose daughter. Discusses the shock of suddenly facing a crisis, the memory of their time together as a family, and the meaning of marriage. National Book Award winner. Bestseller. 2005. DB061740

A Year To Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last
Author: Stephen Levine
Levine teaches us how to live each moment, each hour, each day mindfully--as if it were all that was left. On his deathbed, Socrates exhorted his followers to practice dying as the highest form of wisdom. Levine decided to live this way himself for a whole year, and now he shares with us how such immediacy radically changes our view of the world and forces us to examine our priorities. 1998. PR008075 & DBC03053


The Accidental Tourist
Author: Annie Tyler
Narrator: Bob Askey
Macon Leary leads a quiet, routine life until his young son is killed in a fast-food shop holdup and his wife of twenty years suddenly decides to leave him. Macon returns to his family's home and settles into a dull, soothing life with his brothers and sister--until he meets a dog trainer named Muriel Pritchett, who is as different from his wife as anyone could be. Some strong language. Bestseller. 1985. DB022961, BR006250 & PR003260

All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Narrators: Kirby Heyborne and Ari Meyers
When Theodore and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school--both teetering on the edge--it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship. They journey to discover the natural wonders of the state of Indiana, and hope to save each other. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2014. DB080476

Before I Die
Author: Jenny Downham
Sixteen-year-old Tessa has leukemia. She makes a list; a list of ten things she wants to do in her last few months. And the first of these is to have sex. But Tessa discovers that getting what you want doesn't always give you what you need -- sometimes the most unexpected things become the most important. Before I Die is a story that celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's like to die. Contains some descriptions of sex. For young adults and older readers. 2008. PR017072

Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Narrator: Mare Trevathan
Popular high school student Samantha dies in a car crash but wakes up alive the next morning. She must relive her last day repeatedly until she discovers why she has been given this chance. Contains some strong language and some descriptions of sex. For senior high and older readers.2010. DB071214

Before I Go
Author: Coleen Oakley
On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant "Cancerversary" with her husband Jack to celebrate three years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, and she may have as few as four months left to live. Death is a frightening prospect -but not because she's afraid for herself. Terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but charmingly helpless husband, she decides to find him another wife. But as Daisy searches for Jack's perfect match, she starts to question her plan. What's more important in the time she has left: her husband's happiness -or her own? 2015. PR023438

The Beginner's Goodbye
Author: Anne Tyler
Narrator: Frank Coffee
Thirty-six-year-old widower Aaron Woolcott frequently sees the ghost of his wife Dorothy, who was killed in an accident that nearly destroyed their house. Aaron, who is physically disabled, moves in with his overbearing sister and learns to say goodbye to the past and open himself up to happiness. Bestseller. 2012. DB074490, BR019602 & PR020122

Bridge to Terabithia
Author: Katherine Paterson
Narrator: Kristin Allison
Jess finds his biggest rival and best friend in Leslie, a girl who moves to his rural Virginia community from the city. Together they create Terabithia, a secret kingdom in the woods where they reign supreme--until tragedy strikes. Newbery Medal. For grades 5-8. 1977. DB048732, BR008361 & PR003598

The Descendants
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Narrator: David Hartley-Margolin
Hawaii. After attorney Matt King learns that his comatose wife Joanie had been unfaithful, he and their troubled daughters search for her lover to invite him to say goodbye to Joanie. Meanwhile, Matt faces the upcoming sale of valuable family land he inherited from his royal ancestor. Strong language. 2007. DB074087

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Narrator: Kimberly Schraf
After fifteen-year-old Liz Hall is hit by a taxi and killed, she finds herself in a place called "Elsewhere" that is both like and unlike Earth. There she must adjust to her new status and figure out how to "live." For junior and senior high readers. 2005. DB061391 & PR015014

The Fault in our Stars
Author: John Green
Narrator: Kate Rudd
A miracle drug may have given sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel a few more years, but she is still depressed. Then Hazel meets cute Augustus during a support-group meeting and her world shifts in unexpected and inspiring ways. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2012. DB074112, DB077980 Spanish & PR020362

The Five People you Meet in Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Narrator: Erik Singer
Eddie spends his last hours on earth in his usual way, maintaining the Ruby Pier amusement park rides. But something goes wrong, and Eddie dies on his eighty-third birthday while trying to save a little girl. In heaven he meets five people who explain his life to him. Bestseller. 2003. DB057004 & PR014819

The Knitting Circle
Author: Ann Hood
Narrator: Laura Giannarelli
Providence, Rhode Island. Journalist Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle after the death of her five-year-old daughter. As other members share their stories of love, loss, and hope, Mary confronts her grief and begins to heal. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2007. DB064963 & PR015906

The Last Forever
Author: Deb Caletti
Narrator: Kristin Allison
After her mother's death, Tessa struggles to hold onto her friends, boyfriend, and happiness. Then, during an impromptu road trip, she meets Henry, and the secrets they share give her a chance at healing. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2014. DB079946

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Author: Francisco Stork
Narrator: Dave Corey
Young Pancho is bent on avenging the senseless death of his sister Rosa. But his priorities--and life--change when he meets D.Q., who is dying of cancer, and Marisol, one of D.Q.'s caregivers at St. Anthony's orphanage. Some strong language. For senior high readers. 2010. DB071085

Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Narrator: Mare Trevathan
When Laurel starts writing letters to dead people for a school assignment, she confides about her sister's mysterious death, her mother's departure from the family, her new friends, and her first love. Contains some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2014. DB079472

The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Seabold
Narrator: Jill Fox
Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl murdered by a neighbor, watches over her family and friends from heaven. While adjusting to a new habitat, she reaches out to them as she observes their struggle to survive their grief. Contains some descriptions of sex, some violence, and some strong language. Bestseller. 2002. DB054698, BR014806 & PR012599

Remember the Secret
Author: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Narrator: Elizabeth Cavano
Because she has already discovered the wonders of God, Suzy understands the true meaning of her friend's death. For grades 2-4 and older readers. 1982. SMA00611

The Tenth Good Thing about Barney
Author: Judith Viorst
Narrator: Bruce Huntey
A small boy quickly remembers nine good things about Barney, his cat who died. His father helps him think of the tenth good thing about Barney, which they agree is "a pretty nice job for a cat." For grades K-3. 1971. DB040467 & BR000001