There are a huge number of books available that can help you cope with death or bereavement, give you more information about where you can get support, or just make you think.
Below is just a small selection.
Dying to Know, Pilotlight
The one thing we all have in common is that we are dying. Yet death remains a taboo subject in our society. No one seems to want to talk about it, or knows what to do or say when someone is dying, or dies. Dying to Know is a ground-breaking book which cuts through the taboos and places death firmly in the circle of life. Quirky without being irreverent, accessible without being glib and challenging without being disturbing, Dying to Know is a collection of conversation starters that lifts the lid on death and helps connect us all a little more. Read it, then rush into the daylight to get on with the more challenging matter of living.
To mark Dying Matters Awareness Week 2012, we launched the first ever public writing competition to take death as its subject. The response was staggering, with more than 1,400 original works entered. The first, second and third prize winners as well as 12 highly commended entries have been brought together for 'Final Chapters, Writing about the end of life'. Profoundly moving, unsettling and occasionally funny, the stories convey the full range of human emotions so often pushed aside or locked away when it comes to talking about death.
Aspects of Loss: A Companion for Bereaved Parents and their families, Gill Hartley
This is Gill's second book since the death of her son Will at 22. Written from the depths of experience, it will help anyone journeying through bereavement and faces full-on the predicament of a culture that does not help bring grief into the open. This substantial paperback contains Will's story and deals with different aspects of loss. The book is interspersed with quotations and poems from both the author's own and other published works.
How to Have a Good Death, Jane Feinmann, Clive Peterson, D.R. Goldhill and John Ellershaw
A good death contributes to a good life, so we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to deal with a reality most of us don't want to face. Find out how to deal with death, from understanding the process of dying to communicating with hospital staff and working through the difficult stages of bereavement.
Living with Dying, Grace Shepherd
A profound insight to the greatest test we all face: to be beside someone we love - a parent, a partner, a child – as they die. Grace Sheppard draws on the experience of caring for her dying husband, David Sheppard, England cricket captain and later Bishop of Liverpool.
Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation, Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek
Rinpoche Gehlek is one of the last incarnate Lamas alive who was fully educated in Tibet. For the last 20 years he has lived and taught Westerners techniques tested over the course of 2,500 years - techniques which teach us how to take control over our lives and our fears, now and for the future. This is a book which addresses the fundamental questions of life: who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do we get there?
The D Word: Talking about Dying, Sue Brayne
"The D-Word" is a practical guide to support relatives, friends and carers who are coping with the distress and anxiety of someone nearing the end of life, or who has suddenly died. Personal stories from people from all walks of life explore the different ways they have come to terms with the dying process or the sudden death of their spouse, partner, parent, friend or child, how they have confronted their fear of talking about it, and ways in which they found support during this very difficult time.
Dying Well: A Guide to Enabling a Good Death, Dorothy Austin, Peter C. Jupp, and Julia Neuberger
This text looks at the various ways in which people of different professions, cultures, religions and philosophical standpoints view death. It covers the hospice movement, euthanasia, living wills and advance directives.
Time to Go, Jean Frances
This book offers choices that will enable you to plan farewell ceremonies where life and death are interwoven. It provides snapshots of woodland burials, funerals that encompass different religious beliefs or none at all; traditions and rituals from around the world as well as many customs.
Finishing Touches, Jean Frances
A pocket-sized book that gives 60+ ways to enrich a funeral, at little or no extra cost. It will answer many questions and spark the imagination of those planning their own funeral or the funeral of a loved one.
The Natural Death handbook, by Josefine Speyer, The Natural Death Centre, and Stephanie Wienrich
More and more people want to organise at least part of a funeral for themselves, without depending on funeral directors. The Natural Death Handbook shows you how to do everything from ordering a coffin to hiring a horse-drawn hearse to finding a woodland burial ground. It also explains how to arrange a burial on private land and how to set up a woodland burial ground as a business or charity.
Last Orders; The Essential Guide to Your Letter of Wishes, Patricia C Byron
Since the launch of Last Orders in the spring of 2010, it has become a staple item for those wishing to put their affairs in order. Along with the general public, there are now law firms within the UK Legal 500 using Last Orders for their Will-making clients as well as members of STEP, estate planners and IFAs.
An Emptied Space, Mel McEvoy
This is Mel McEvoy's first collection of poetry. Many of the poems are reflections on the last few days of life which is often hidden from many of us. The single reason is to illustrate how we die so we have less fear.
"This is powerful, life-affirming poetry that celebrates life and confronts life and death." - Pauiline Plummer
The Good Will Guide, Patricia C. Byron
This simple guide to Will-making examines examines today’s Will making options, Will storage and the choices you have for appointing executors. It also aims to steer readers away from making poor, uninformed choices which could prove costly. It will tell you why good willing doesn’t just revolve around the making of a Will, but of the importance of leaving, in the broader sense, a good legacy.
Death Matters, Sally Petch
An unusual new book that encourages us to change how we think about dying. Throughout the book, author Sally Petch asks us to start talking about and planning our own death - so that we can reach a place of acceptance and lessen our fear of an event which is ultimately inevitable.
"Death Matters is an easy to read book. Sally Petch has performed us a great service in helping us come to terms with the idea of death." Satish Kumar, Editor-in-chief, Resurgence Magazine
Celebrating the Life of a Loved One: what to do with their ashes
This book is packed with help and advice for anyone who doesn't know what to do with cremation ashes. There are ideas for ceremonies, interesting ways of scattering or keeping ashes as well as unusual goodbyes such as Viking boats and fireworks. Richard Martin started blogging four years ago, and set up the website Scattering Ashes from his loft in Bristol. This book is all about helping people to mark the passing of their loved in a way that is special and poignant to them.
“I think this is a very decent and instructive little book -- and much needed. Ashes still stump people big time”, Charles Cowling, Editor, The Good Funeral Guide
Books for children
The Copper Tree
A beautifully written and illustrated book which gently and sensitively guides young children through the subject of death.
Saying Goodbye to Hare; Remembering Hare
Two beautifully illustrated books to help children understand the concepts of death and dying, and to boost the confidence of adults in tackling such daunting subjects. Aimed at 5-9 year olds.
My Daddy Had Cancer
A gentle, tender book for parents, teachers and guardians to share with young children affected by the death of someone close. Through simple words and colourful illustrations, it aims to help children share their thoughts and feelings about their loss.
Michael Rosen's Sad Book
What makes Michael Rosen most sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died. He writes about how it affects him and some of the things he does to try and cope with it. Aimed at young people, this heartbreakingly honest account of a father’s grief for his son will surely touch you.
Books for People with Learning Disabilities
Am I going to die? Sheila Hollins and Irene Tuffrey-Wijne.
From the Books Beyond Words series for healthcare professionals, parents and carers who support people with learning disabilities. John has a terminal illness. This book tells his story, dealing with both physical deterioration and the emotional aspects of dying in an honest and moving way. John is shown getting weaker and needing more help. He looks back at his life and makes choices about how to spend his time. The pictures highlight the importance of going on special outings, of remembering good times, and of saying proper goodbyes to family and friends. The final images show John dying at home.
When I die: The Choices that Tony has made for the end of his life
A free, downloadable booklet is an example of what a person-centred approach to the end of life planning should look like.