Rilke claimed, "Death is our friend, precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love."

 

Maria Popova's Brain Pickings features the most unusual and appealing books about death and dying to be found anywhere. Some may view these as children's books, but I don't see it that way. This collection is international in scope, thus the perspective is decidedly broader than one usually finds when exploring the topic. 

 

 The Heart and The Bottle

 Little Tree

 My Fathers Arms Are A Boat

 The Flat Rabbit

• Cry Heart, But Never Break

• Dropping Ashes on The Buddha

• The Magic Box

 

Too often books written about death for adults are over prescriptive or maudlin. These are not. They are just right. 

 

Natural Causes 

 

 How We Die: 

Reflections on Life's Final Chapter

 

 The Long Goodbye

 

• The River

 

I would add one of my favourite books, Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree to this list. It's the story about a tree's love for a boy. She provides him with everything he needs, food, shelter, companionship, play, a place to dream and work out the mysteries of life, while the boy takes and takes and takes. In the end, the magnificent Giving Tree is a stump upon which the boy, now an old man, sits and rests. 

 

 

Amicus Mortis means "friend in death." Given the choice, most of us want one. Unfortunately, family and friends don't always have the capacity to take on this role. There are at least 100 end-of-life doulas (guides) in Britain. Death Doulas often come from nursing, palliative care, or social service backgrounds.

 

According to The Guardian, the UK ranks as the best place in the world to die. There are likely many reasons for this, starting with our much-loved National Health Service, where all are treated with kindness and compassion. There is also much support for those requiring in-home care and transportation services. 

 

Great Britain is where Hospice began over fifty years ago. Today there are some 200 British Hospice organisations supporting us through the final months of our lives. Unfortunately, assisted suicide remains illegal in spite of overwhelming public support for the option. Because of the British governments failure to listen to those forced to endure untold misery when dying from a terminal illness, I cannot agree that this is 'The Best Place to Die.'  

 

Below is a collection of articles and essays I find particularly engaging when considering death. Click the title to read. 

 

English poet and novelist Helen Dunmore’s final collection of poetry, 'Inside The Wave,’ is earning much praise. She died from cancer in the summer of 2017. Her last poem, 'Hold Out Your Arms’ brings me to tears. It’s both comforting and heartbreaking to read. She wrote this a couple of weeks before her death at the age of 64. 
To learn more about Ms. Dunmore, stop by The Guardian. This writer will enhance your life. You'll find 'Inside The Wave' and other Dunmore books at Wordery. Better yet, support your local, independent book shop. 
Marsha Coupe
Marsha Coupe