But not everyone thinks about dying.
These books provide an overview of the dying process and its many aspects:
While I am not planning on dying anytime soon, I would like a preview. It's my habit to research elements of my various life stages as I move through them.
I've actually read almost 60 books on death and dying by taking a very broad view from getting the diagnosis, through illness, caregiving, death, burial / cremation and even beyond to the grief / mourning of loved ones.
I also have novels on my bigger list. If you would like to see the full list, see my virtual bookshelf on Goodreads.
This post is more narrowly defined. I'm listing books in reverse chronology of publication, split into two categories:
Books by Doctors, Other Medical Personnel, and Chaplains
Warraich, Haider. Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life. (2017) Review.
Egan, Kerry. On Living. (2016) Review
Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (2014). Review
Lynn, Joanne, Janice Lynnn Schuster & Joan Harrold. Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness (2011). Review
Dosa, David. Making the Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat (2010). Review
Chen, Pauline W. Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflection on Mortality (2006). Review
Nuland, Sherwin B. How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter (1994). Review
Peck, Scott M. Denial of the Soul: Spiritual and Medical Perspectives on Euthanasia and Mortality (1991). Review
Books by People Who Are Terminally Ill and Books by a Loved One Offering Support
Kalanithi, Paul: When Breath Becomes Air (2016). Review
Butler, Katy. Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death (2013). GR Review and Blog Review
Schwalbe, Will. The End of Your Life Book Club (2012). Review
Hitchens, Christopher. Mortality (2012). Review
Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture (2008). Review
Rollin, Betty. Last Wish (1998). Review
Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie (1997). Review
A few of these books have a significant discussion of the spiritual aspects of being in the dying process. However, I have found an increase in books about spirituality and aging that talk about several challenges, including an increased awareness of one's own mortality. I have a separate post about called Books on Aging and Spiritual Growth.
I have found that those with cancer are overrepresented in books about the dying process, especially in memoirs. In the books above, Kalanithi, Hitchens and Pausch are cogent enough to describe their experience as terminally ill people.
Nevertheless, I want to make a special note that Alzheimer's Disease is also a terminal illness that can have a long trajectory like cancer. This gives the person with the disease and their loved ones a space for reflection that many lack when facing death.
I don't have books about the dying process for Alzheimer's Disease here because I have a separate post listing Books about Dementia. It's the caregivers who witness the dying process and can write about it.
Books about Dementia
Books on Aging
Films about Older Adults Active in the Dying Process
Books on Aging and Spiritual Growth