Several months ago, I had the privilege of hosting a Death Café for Moscow community members. The Death Café concept was developed in 2011 by Jon Underwood, with the goal of bringing people together over snacks and tea to discuss all things death, dying and grief. A Death Café is not a support or therapy group. It never a for-profit event, and it is always oriented toward safe, gentle conversation. I feel so grateful to those community members who joined me in this vulnerable space to talk about their own experiences and perspectives.
Many of us were not given the tools to talk openly about death and grief, and resources for navigating it often are hard to find.
The Latah County Library District has many resources available to help community members, no matter what aspect of death or dying you are trying to navigate or explore.
Perhaps you’re ready to create a will, but don’t know where to start. You might be interested in “Quick and Legal Will Book” by Denis Clifford or “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Wills and Estate Planning” by Eric G. Matlin.
The process of dying is one that is rarely addressed in daily conversation or advice columns, but many of us have questions about end-of-life care and spiritual and mental wellness at the end of life.
For books related to these questions, I recommend “The Art of Dying Well: a Practical Guide to a Good End of Life” by Katy Butler. Another great option is “Approaching the End of Life: a Practical and Spiritual Guide” by Donna Schaper.
Maybe you want to learn more about preplanning a funeral, or what options are available to you and your loved ones.
There are more options than you might expect.
Check out “It’s Your Funeral! Plan the Celebration of a Lifetime Before It’s Too Late” by Kathy Benjamin or “Reimagining Death: Stories and Practical Wisdom for Home Funerals and Green Burials” by Lucinda Herring.
“The American Way of Death Revisited” by Jessica Mitford is a good starting point for learning about the history of the funeral industry in the United States. For a more contemporary perspective, check out “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty.
If your child is like mine, they have many questions about death, what it is and what it means. My favorite children’s books that address death in a compassionate and appropriate way are “Fox: a Circle of Life Story” by Isabel Thomas and “The Day Tiger Rose said Good-Bye” by Jane Yolen. “Cry Heart, But Never Break” by Glenn Ringtved is another picture book that addresses grief beautifully.
Many of us experience grief and loss in a lonely and isolating way. “The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss” by Mary-Frances O’Connor provides a perspective on the effect of grief that is based in neuroscience. “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler is a classic book for helping one sit with one’s grief and pain during loss. For parents of grieving children, “Living with Grief: Children, Adolescents, and Loss,” edited by Kenneth J. Doka, can provide guidance for how to support them through the grieving process.
Experiencing death and grief is perhaps the most universal human experience while simultaneously being one of the most isolating, painful and lonely. If you are interested in engaging with community conversations about death and dying, please consider joining us at the library for upcoming Death Cafés. We will be hosting one in early March and more throughout the year. While they are not set up to provide therapeutic support, there can be great comfort in joining in community for these conversations. And as always, please visit us at any branch of the Latah County Library District to explore these and other books and resources.
Ziegler is a circulation assistant at the Moscow Library.