Books on My Bookshelf

  • Jan 29, 2019 -
  • Patricia Russell
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As someone certified in Clinical Pastoral Care and a longtime hospice volunteer in Illinois and Florida, I’m often asked to recommend books that might help individuals and families deal with serious illness, impending death and “grief relief” post-death.  I’ve since compiled the following reading list in the hope that you will find these books tremendously helpful, as I have.  This selection of books is meant to reach people from all walks of life.  They are useful to those of all religious beliefs, or no religious belief.

The books are not listed in any particular order of importance.  Note that some titles are by the same author and that all but one of them are available via Amazon.  In some cases, I’ve added a note or two about the author and book.  Happy reading!

Here to There, Grief to Peace:  An Illustrated Journey in Nine Guided Steps

Diana Jacks, Ph.D.

A sensitive book that offers gentle steps to healing for people going through any kind of loss.  Moving from loss to recovery to happiness.


Living with Grief:  When Illness is Prolonged

Kenneth Doka, Ph.D. and Joyce Davidson

Forward by Jack Gordon, President of Hospice Foundation of America

Hospice Foundation of America started this annual teleconference series because they saw a need to educate hospice workers and volunteers about bereavement issues.


Channels of Healing:  Studies for the People of God  

Rev. Owen Dowling, Bishop of Canberra, Australia

Help for those who are in need of spiritual healing.


Praying for Wholeness and Healing

Rev. Richard Beckmen,  Member of Order of St. Luke, an organization committed to promoting a healing ministry in congregations.

How do we pray for healing?  Why are some people not cured?  What does forgiveness have to do with healing?



Francis MacNutt, Ph.D.

Trusting in God’s power to heal.


How Good People Make Tough Choices:  Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living

Rushworth M. Kidder

Shows us how to grapple with everyday issues and problems relating to moral judgments.


The Purpose Driven Life:  What on Earth am I Here For?

Rick Warren

Explains our real purpose on earth and states profound truths in simple ways.  The book helps to place your feet firmly on the right path, with God’s help.


Biblical Counseling for Today:  A Handbook for Those who Counsel from Scripture

Jeffery Watson.

Using scripture to impart advice.  The author served as a pastor in the Washington, D.C. area for 20 years.


The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Sogyal Rinpoche

Inspires a quiet revolution in the way we look at death and care for the dying, and the whole way we look at life and care for the living.  Accepting death, the heartbreak of death from a new perspective.


Letters to a Dying Friend:  Helping Those You Love Make a Conscious Transition

Anton Grosz, Ph.D.

A Westernized version of the classic thousand-year-old Tibetan Book of the Dead, without all the multi-armed deities that are part of the Eastern tradition.  What westerners will experience as we leave our body and enter the afterlife.  Introduction by H.H. the Dalai Lama.  Grosz is a retired hospice counselor and workshop leader in San Francisco.


How do I Live When I Know I’m Going to Die?:  Thoughts and Insights About Life’s Most Challenging Passage and America’s Last Taboo

Anton Grosz, Ph.D.

A short gentle book, caring, compassionate and easy to read.  Includes information on hospice care at the end of life.  Makes one stop and rethink the way we look at death.  Grosz is a retired hospice counselor and workshop leader in San Francisco.


The Rights of the Dying:  A Companion for Life’s Final Moments

David Kessler, founder of Progressive Home Health Care Agency.  Progressive was a pioneer in the hospice movement.  He has helped hundreds of men, women and children face death with peace, dignity and courage.

The book helps people understand that death is the full surrender of ourselves to love, much like falling into the arms of God.  That death is going home to God.

Among the rights:  The right to be treated as a living human; to maintain hopefulness; to be cared for by those who can maintain a sense of hopefulness; the right to express feelings and emotions about death in one’s own way, etc. It’s like 17 Wishes!


How Good Do We Have to Be?:  A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness  Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Shows how to love and forgive ourselves, along with others.


Where There is Love, There is God:  A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others

By Mother Teresa, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk


Come Be My Light:  The Private Writings of the ‘Saint of Calcutta’ Seeking the Will of God

By Mother Teresa, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk


Holy Listening:  The Art of Spiritual Direction

Margaret Guenther, an Episcopal priest serving as Priest Associate at Church of the Holy Trinity, New York City.


The Practice of Prayer

Margaret Guenther

The book deepens the understanding of prayer and our relationship with God.


Toward Holy Ground:  Spiritual Directions for the Second Half of Life

Margaret Guenther

Undertaking the tasks essential to a mature faith; mortality and fulfillment; preparing for “a good death.”  Good sense of humor and a rock of common sense.



Rev. Terry Fullam, a priest at St. Paul’s Church in Darien, CT.

A man’s effort to relate to God; the meaning of grace, mercy and love; fear and security; pride versus equality; right relationships; and life beyond life.


Gone From My Sight:  The Dying Experience

Barbara Karnes


Knowing God

J.I. Packer

What it means to know God.


Getting to the Other Side of Grief:  Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse

Susan Zonnebelt Smeenge and Robert DeVries


Pathways for Caregivers & Patients

Bill Webster

Reflections for the journey through life-threatening illness and beyond.


Deathing:  An Intelligent Alternative for the Final Moments of Life

Anya Foos-Graber

How you can take control of the inevitable and experience it, not with fear, but with awareness of your connection to God and the universal oneness.


Graceful Exits:  How Great Beings Die

Sushila Blackman and Neil Shah

Death stories of highly spiritual individuals who show, by how they handled their own passage, that dying is the most natural thing in the world and there is nothing to fear.


Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation

Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek

A very gentle book about how you live and how you die can affect your rebirth the next time around.


Last Acts of Kindness:  Lessons for the Living from the Bedsides of the Dying

Judith Redwing Keyssar

True stories of positive ways families dealt with someone dying in their family.  Written by a director of palliative care.

(Ms. Russell is a member of the Aging with Dignity Board of Directors)