The Art of Aging/Art of Dying has created this online resource guide to assist in sharing information on a variety of freely available films, books, documents and websites on the topics of aging, death and dying. Occasionally presentation hosts may post information related to their topic to this site for ease of access. We encourage active contributions. Please contact Michele at [email protected] to suggest an addition or revision.
Art of Aging | Art of Dying Resources List
A Will for the Woods
What if our last act could be a gift to the planet? Determined that his final resting place will benefit the earth, musician, psychiatrist, and folk dancer Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial while battling lymphoma. The spirited Clark and his partner Jane, boldly facing his mortality, embrace the planning of a spiritually meaningful funeral and join with a compassionate local cemetarian to use green burial to save a North Carolina woods from being clear-cut.
With poignancy and unexpected humor, A Will for the Woods portrays the last days of a multifaceted advocate – and one community’s role in the genesis of a revolutionary movement. As the film follows Clark’s dream of leaving a legacy in harmony with timeless cycles, environmentalism takes on a profound intimacy.
Mar Adentro (The Sea Within)
This is the life story of Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, who fought a 28-year campaign to win the right to end his own life with assisted suicide. The film explores Ramón’s relationships with two women: Julia, a lawyer suffering from Cadasil syndrome who supports his cause, and Rosa, a local woman who wants to convince him that his life is worth living. Through the gift of his love, these two women are inspired to accomplish things they never previously thought possible.
This documentary introduces us to Stephen Jenkinson, once the leader of a palliative care counseling team at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his daytime job, he has been at the deathbed of well over 1,000 people. What he sees over and over, he says, is “a wretched anxiety and an existential terror” even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care itself, he has made it his life’s mission to change the way we die – to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life. Visit his website here
A Year to Live, by Stephen Levine
On his deathbed, Socrates exhorted his followers to practice dying as the highest form of wisdom, and to live each moment, each hour, each day mindfully–as if it were all that was left. Levine decided to live this way himself for a year, and in this book, he shares how such immediacy radically changes our view of the world and forces us to examine our priorities. This book was the basis for a presentation at the Hoffman Center in 2020.
Advice for Future Corpses, by Sallie Tisdale
The author offers a lyrical, thought-provoking and practical perspective on death and dying. Informed by her years working as a nurse, with more than a decade in palliative care, Tisdale provides a direct and compassionate meditation on death. She led a discussion based on this book at the Hoffman Center in 2018.
Landscapes of Aging and Spirituality, edited by Kathleen Montgomery
In this collection of essays, 19 writers reflect on the experience of aging and the ways it intersects with their spiritual lives.
Aging as a Spiritual Practice, by Lewis Richmond
In this book, Richmond, a Buddhist priest and meditation teacher writes about how aging can bring new possibilities, fresh beginnings and gratitude.
Walking Each Other Home, by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush
In this last book written by Ram Dass a year before his death in 2019, he and Bush engage in conversations designed to enlighten readers on the spiritual opportunities within the dying process.
Ageless Soul, by Thomas Moore
Using examples from his practice as a psychotherapist and teacher, Moore argues for a new vision of aging as a dramatic series of initiations rather than a diminishing experience.
Who Dies? By Stephen Levine
Who Dies? is the first book to show the reader how to open to the immensity of living with death, to participate fully in life as the perfect preparation for whatever may come next. The Levines provide calm compassion rather than the frightening melodrama of death.
The Wild Edge of Sorrow, by Francis Weller
In The Wild Edge of Sorrow, author and soul activist Weller offers a new vision of grief and sorrow. He reveals the hidden vitality in grief, uncovered when the heart welcomes the sorrows of our life and those of the world. When the deeper rhythms of grief are allowed to emerge, we become aware of the intimate connection we share with all things. We are ripened in times of loss, made more human by the rites of grief. Through story, poetry and insightful reflections, Francis offers a meditation on the healing power of grief.
Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
Being Mortal is a meditation on how people can better live with age-related frailty, serious illness, and approaching death. Gawande calls for a change in the way that medical professionals treat patients approaching their ends.