The Library

Hospice Society of North Kootenay Lake has a free library of books that you are welcome to borrow.  Call 250-353-2299 about availability and pick-up.

Click on a title to go to a longer review of particular book.

The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), by Joan Didion (b. 1934),

The book recounts Didion’s experiences of grief after Dunne’s 2003 death. Days before his death, their daughter Quintana Roo Dunne Michael was hospitalized in New York with pneumonia which developed into septic shock; she was still unconscious when her father died.

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande

The waning days of our lives are given over to treatments that addle our brains and sap our bodies for a sliver’s chance of benefit. They are spent in institutions—nursing homes and intensive care units—where regimented, anonymous routines cut us off from all the things that matter to us in life. Our reluctance to honestly examine the experience of aging and dying has increased the harm we inflict on people and denied them the basic comforts they most need.

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi wrote his moving book as he approached the completion of his training as a neurosurgeon, but after he had developed metastatic lung cancer. He died at the age of 37, before he could ever practise as a fully qualified surgeon. The book, which he wrote as he was dying, is published posthumously.

Final Gifts, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley

The text considers the phenomenon the authors term Nearing Death Awareness. It is a concept encapsulating a host of psychological, physical, and metaphysical traits, which are exhibited by terminally ill patients in the weeks and days preceding death.

A Caregiver’s Guide, The Order of St. Lazarus

A Caregiver’s Guide was created to provide information for family caregivers to draw upon when preparing and caring for a loved one who has a progressive illness, especially at home. It was developed to complement resources and information provided to caregivers by healthcare professionals, including hospice palliative care teams.

There is a PDF on-line version here:

Stay Close and Do Nothing, Merrill Collett

“Stay Close and Do Nothing” is based on its author’s experiences as a volunteer caregiver at the Zen Hospice Project, associated with the San Francisco, Calif., Zen Center. Collett’s book speaks directly to the families and friends of people with terminal illnesses, offering them the hopeful message that they can successfully care for a dying loved one at home.

Meetings at the Edge, Stephen Levine

“Let this book tear your heart open,” Stephen Levine writes in the introduction to his book Meetings At The Edge: Dialogues With the Grieving and Dying, The Healing and The Healed, a compilation of transcribed conversations Levine had with people actively confronting death.

Living with Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler Ross

In this compassionate and moving guide to communicating with the terminally ill, Dr. Elisabeth Küebler-Ross, the world’s foremost expert on death and dying, shares her tools for understanding how the dying convey their innermost knowledge and needs.

Unattended Sorrow, Stephen Levine

“Nothing is more natural than grief, no emotion more common to our daily experience. It’s an innate response to loss in a world where everything is impermanent. We don’t know what to do with our pain, and we never have. We have been told to bury our feelings, to keep a stiff upper lip to ‘get over it and get on with our lives’ as though loss were not an inevitable part of life. As a result, our sorrow goes unattended and manifests itself in many unexpected ways,” writes Stephen Levine who, along with his wife Ondrea, has counseled terminally ill people and their loved ones for more than 30 years.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Life is full of stress, but Full Catastrophe Living is an excellent resource to keep it at bay through meditation and other mindfulness techniques.

Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

In the introduction to Kitchen Table Wisdom, Remen tells how her male colleagues frequently knocked on her office door to ask for her help with a crying patient. They believed that she, as a woman, would know what to do. Though she knew no more than they, she felt flattered that they came to her and felt that this helped her be more a part of their exclusive “Old Boys Network.” She began to spend more and more time listening to patients share their fears and feelings of living with a terminal disease.

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before you Die, John Izzo, PhD

“In my experience, the two things humans want most are to find happiness and to find meaning,” Izzo writes. In this ready-made spiritual quest, the business consultant and ordained Presbyterian minister interviewed more than 200 people from ages 60 to 106.

The answers they received led him and his team to the belief that there are five secrets to happiness. Izzo’s interviewees were selected after relatives and friends submitted their names as wise people with something to teach.

The Hospice Movement, Sandol Stoddard

A hospice is a “”caring community”” for the terminally ill, offering help in the sick person’s home when possible and inpatient services when necessary. Unlike a hospital, the hospice favors pain and symptom control (via strong medication) over aggressive treatment, and attempts to avoid the new-nurse-each-night syndrome and to meet individual needs–providing a garden view or piping in favorite music…Although the book starts slowly, the argument has a variety of merits; even those who resist the concept of dying as a lifecycle chapter will attend to the idea of limiting medical intervention and dying with dignity at home or in a home-like setting.

Tear Soup, Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen

“Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss” is brilliant. It’s one of those deceptively simple “children’s books” about loss and grief that is so profound, layered, and moving that it seems like it’s written as much for grieving adults as it is for kids.