Whatever brought you here, welcome.

On this page, the

Site Index

For the site index (roughly alphabetical), go here:

Site Map

Index is a work in progress. Whistle if you can't find something!

I started this site as a supplement to my anthology, Dying: A Book of Comfort, which was published to help both people who were dying and those who care for and survive them and who (like the dying) have to deal with grief. Then my friend Harold, whose heart was in lousy shape, read the book (a dozen years before his death) and told me he was much less anxious about dying after reading it. What bothered him more than fear of dying were the multiple chronic conditions that came with aging, which made life more difficult than it used to be. And then there were the caregivers -- they needed help too. And the people with conditions like cancer (once a death notice) now had (along with the consequences of treatment) chronic conditions to deal with. So this site has expanded in directions the original website title (Dying: A Book of Comfort) didn't fit and I'm not sure the new title is a big improvement (suggestions welcome). Technology, altruism, curiosity, and obsessive behavior have made the site grow way beyond what I have time for. As time becomes available, I'll try to make it more presentable. Meanwhile, explore. This is mainly a gateway to information that can help you, in practical and sometimes powerful ways.

Bereavement, grief, and recovery
---Disenfranchised grief and ambiguous loss
---Grief and recovery , selections about (from Pat's anthology, Dying: A Book of Comfort)
---Grief, bereavement, and mourning blogs, sites, forums, and online discussion groups
---Grief, The stages of (“The only way out is through”)
---Grieving the loss of a child
---Grieving the loss of a child, books about
---Grieving the loss of a pet
---Selections from DYING: A Book of Comfort
---Stages of grief ("The only way out is through.")

The beneficial effects of life story and legacy activities
Bladder control and related problems
---Blog posts (this site), index of
---Blogs about autism
---Blogs about dementia
---Blogs about disability
---Cancer blogs and stories of personal encounters with cancer
---Grief, bereavement, and mourning blogs, sites, forums, and online discussion groups
---Social Security, Medicare, and pension rights, Helpful blogs, websites, organizations, and citizen lobbies about

---Aging and elders, books and movies about
---Aging, illness, and dementia, Books about
---Cancer, Books about
---Caregivers and caregiving, Books by, for, and about
---Caregiving for elders, Books about
---Chronic or invisible diseases and conditions, Books about
---Complex and difficult endings (A reading list)
---Death, dying, loss, and grief, Books for adults about
---Death and loss, Children's picture books about
---Dementia, Books about
---Ethical wills (legacy letters), Books to help you write
---Family-directed funerals, Books and stories about
---Grieving the loss of a child, Books about
---Heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular disease, Books and other resources about
---Medical reference shelf, For your
---Medical reference books, general
---Medical and healthcare professionals, Books about the work and lives of
---Medicine, health care, and caregiving, Books on -- for patients and caregivers
---Suicide (and surviving a suicide), Books about
---Traveling with limited mobility and other disabilities, Books about --- Vaccines and immunization, Books about

---Specific types of cancer
---Bone cancer
---Brain tumors, brain cancer, and aneurysms (no, aneurysms aren't cancers)
---Breast cancer
---Colon and colorectal cancer
---Kidney cancer
---Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood cancers
---Lung cancer
---Melanoma and other skin cancers
---Multiple myeloma
---Ovarian, cervical, and other gynecological/​reproductive system cancers
---Pancreatic cancer
---Prostate cancer
---Rare types of cancer

---Cancer by the numbers (e.g., survival rates, incidence)
---Cancer information and advice, sources for
---Cancer support groups
---Cancer research, education, and advocacy organizations
---Checking out clinical trials for cancer
---Comforting and helping a person who has cancer
---Coping with cancer
---Financial support for cancer care
---Finding hospitals and cancer centers
---Finding support for the family of cancer patients
---General information and approaches to treatment
---Foods that fight cancer
---Make-a-Wish and other wish fulfillment organizations
---Tools for coping with cancer
---Understanding the debate on cancer-related health care reform and health policy

---Cardiovascular health and disease, general info about
---Eminence-based cardiovascular medicine
---Evidence-based cardiovascular care
---Heart attacks, preventing and surviving
---Heart disease in women
---Heart surgery
Hypertension and blood pressure issues
---The statin wars
Strokes, preventing, treating, and surviving

Caregivers, caregiving, long-term care, and caregiver burnout
---Caregivers, Books by and about
--- Caregiving for elders, Books about
---Caring for caregivers (preventing caregiver burnout)
---Caring for patients with dementia
---Key documents caregivers may need
---Resources for caregivers
---Online communities for caregivers
---Organizations helpful for caregivers

Charity and volunteering: Giving wisely and doing good (and donating your body or body parts)
---Charity ratings
---Donating bodies or body parts
---Donating organs and tissue, for transplants
---Practicing philanthropy: giving to make a difference
---Rethinking charity
---Teaching the next generation about giving
---Tips on charitable giving
---Worst practices in charity world

---Coping with chronic, rare, and invisible diseases and disorders (specific conditions described in alphabetical order)
---Coping with invisible chronic illnesses and conditions (including ADHD, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatic arthritis)
---Managing chronic pain (See also Pain management)
---Memoirs of coping with chronic, rare, or invisible diseases, including mental health problems
---Rare and undiagnosed diseases and conditions
---Specific chronic , rare, and invisible conditions, in alphabetical order (not listed in index)

Complex and difficult endings
---Assisted dying and VSED (voluntarily stopping eating and drinking)
---Books about suicide (and surviving a suicide)
---Complex and Difficult Endings: A Reading List
---Death with dignity (assisted-dying laws, etc.)
---End-of-life decision-making
---End-of-life decision-making in the critical care unit
---Euthanasia (physician-assisted dying)
---Grieving the loss of a child
---How to tell children their parent is dying
---'Right to Try' legislation (allowing terminally ill patients to access experimental drugs)
---Suicide and suicide prevention
---Helpful organizations and online resources
---Useful general links

---Death cafes and group conversations about end-of-life concerns

---Conversations about dying
---Complex and difficult endings--suicide, homicide, physician-assisted suicide, violence (including domestic violence), sudden death (from accidents and otherwise), dementia and other forms of lingering illness
---Death, dying, and grief in the age of social media
---Helping a dying friend
---Hospice care and palliative care (don't wait too late!)
---How to tell children their parent is dying
---Movies about death and dying
---Near-death experiences (crossing over)
---Order Dying: A Book of Comfort
---Saying goodbye
---Statistics about death, mortality, long-term care, hospice care, and palliative care
---Stories about death and dying (including the "good death" and dying with dignity)
---When is someone legally dead?

Dementia. See Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia above.
Diagnosis. See Medical mysteries (stories of illnesses and conditions difficult to diagnose)

---Advice, reflections, equipment, services --things that make life easier
when our body or mind fall short)

---Assistive devices, remodeling, and other ways to enable independent living
---Blogs about disability
---Changing attitudes toward disability
---Homelessness, Addressing problems of
---Legal and financial aspects of disability
---Senior health problems, surgery, aches and pains
---Traveling with disabilities and/​or limited mobility

---Documents and information to keep together, easily findable (personal, financial, and legal)
---Documents caregivers may need
---Documents to protect your and your survivors' rights and wishes
---End-of-life planning and document storage sites

Downsizing, decluttering, moving, and other hard-to-face realities
---Being, dealing with, or trying to help a hoarder
---Cleaning and household tips
Downsizing and decluttering (letting go of things)
---Estate, garage, and yard sales, etc.
---Moving: Senior move managers and other specialists
---Organizing and dealing with things and information
---Selling or recycling books, etc.

Donating your body or body parts
Drug courts, The problems with
DYING: A Book of Comfort. Order here.

Eating disorders
Eldercare planning resources
Elder law, elder protection, and pension rights organizations
Electronic health records (EHRs--issues, problems, information)

---About end-of-life care
---Conversations about dying
---Death cafes (events, not venues--facilitating conversations about dying)
---Document storage sites for end-of-life planning information
---End-of-life decision-making
---End-of-life decision-making in the critical care unit
--Improving end-of-life care
---Organizations and online resources supportive of right-to-die and related life-ending choices
---Practical aspects of end-of-life care and decision-making

---Dignity therapy
---Ethical wills
---Ethical will workshop, Pat’s
--- Kristie Miller’s Letter of Intent
---The Stanford Letter Project

---The beneficial effects of life story and legacy activities
---Eulogies and video tributes
---Good interview questions for the family
---Healing stories and storytelling organizations and sites
---How putting events into a story may aid the healing process
---Obituaries and other forms of tribute
Memoirs of illness, crisis, disability, differentness, and survival (a reading list)
---On dealing with variance from "normality"
---Stories, healing, and self-understanding (a booklist)
---Telling your story (writing your memoirs, creating a family history, genealogical resources, oral histories, books to get started writing your own or someone else's life story--on the Pat McNees website)

Facing tough issues

Funerals, cremation, home funerals, green burial, memorial services
---Advice from the Federal Trade Commission
---Cemeteries, gravesites, headstones, and memorials
---Coffins, caskets, and urns
---Cremation and crematories
---Death- and burial-related organizations
--- DYING: A Book of Comfort (order here)
--- Family-directed funerals Books and stories about
---Funerals, memorial services, and other ceremonies for the dead
---Green funerals
---Home funerals and family-directed funerals
---Memorials and headstones, Online and high-tech (locating burial sites with a smartphone, etc.)
---Music for funerals, wakes, and memorial services
---Organ, tissue, and whole-body donation
---Planning for a funeral
---Veterans death, burial, and survivor benefits
---Veterans, Farewells to

Gambling addiction
Getting your affairs in order
Giving, Teaching the next generation about charity and volunteering

---Heart attacks, preventing and surviving
---Heart disease in women
---Heart surgery
---Helping a dying friend

---Dealing with manpower shortages (physicians and other healthcare professionals
---Faith-based alternatives to health insurance plans
---Frequently asked questions about health insurance and the ACA (Obamacare)
---Health insurance (general)
---Health insurance, ACA, and the marriage glitch
---Health insurance exchange and marketplaces (and ACA, or Obamacare)
--- Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance
---The politics and policy issues of health care (insurance) reform
---Pros and cons of a single-payer system and problems with the current health insurance system
---Retainer or concierge medicine and other new models for paying doctors

---The costs of neglecting the mentally ill
---Doctors' incentives to prescribe expensive medications
---Health care reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare)
---Improving healthcare practices
---Organizations serious about improving U.S. healthcare
---Repeal, replace, and various proposed alternatives to Obamacare (ACA)
---Understanding the basic issues in health insurance reform

HIPAA and patient privacy issues
HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA).
---Patient privacy and related issues
---The HIPAA privacy rule

---Good e-resources for patients, consumers, patient advocates and e-patients
---Medical choices, making informed
---Medical costs, reducing
---Private screening tests, the truth about

---Finding hospitals and cancer centers
---Managing hospitalization and after
---Sites providing information about hospital charges

---Housing options for seniors and disabled (including new housing models, equipment, services)
---Big picture, The: Senior housing options
---Aging in Place (naturally occurring retirement centers, or NORCs)
---Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)
---The Eden Alternative and The Green House Project
---Homelessness, Addressing problems of
---Long-term acute care hospitals
---Memory care
---Nursing homes, old-style and new (including Green Houses)
---The Village Movement

How to comfort the grieving
Hypertension and blood pressure issues

Managing your health, pain, medications, and health care costs
Managing a healthy weight
Managing modern life (and electronics)

---The anatomy of medical error
---Reducing medical errors
---Reducing preventable medical errors
---Will you die from medical error?

Medical choices,
Medical costs, reducing
Medical mysteries (stories of patients with difficult-to-diagnose illnesses and conditions)

See also Health insurance, health exchanges, and the ACA (Obamacare)
---Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Medicare and Medicaid
---Helpful blogs, websites, organizations, and citizen lobbies about Social Security, Medicare, and pension rights
---History of, and legislation affecting, Medicare and Medicaid
---How Medicare and Medicaid fall short (End-of-life talks and other issues)
---Medicare: What you need to know
---Medicare issues and Medicare reform (and reform proposals)
---MACRA: Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act
---Medicaid: What you need to know
---Medicaid issues and Medicaid reform

---Buying drugs and procedures smartly, cheaply, safely
---Doctors' incentives to prescribe expensive medications
---Drugs, Big Pharma, conflicts of interest, and why U.S. patients pay too much for medication (blog post, updated)
---Fighting drug price gouging and making drugs more affordable
---Managing medications, tests, procedures, and treatments
---Medications, tests, procedures, and treatments to question or avoid
---Questioning drug claims and managing medication side effects

MEMOIRS (See also Stories and storytelling)
---Memoirs about struggling with cancer
---Memoirs and fiction about drug abuse and various forms of addiction
---Memoirs of coping with chronic, rare, or invisible diseases, including mental health problems
---Memoirs of coping with chronic, rare, or invisible diseases, including mental health
--Memoirs of illness, crisis, disability, differentness, and survival (a reading list)
---Memoirs of illness, crisis, disability, differentness, and survival

Memory (how it works, how it declines)

MENTAL HEALTH illness, problems, and resources
See also SUBSTANCE ABUSE (addiction and recovery)
---Approaches to treatment
---General help and information
---Substance abuse and recovery (addiction as a medical problem)
---The system: Issues affecting the treatment of mental illness
---Mental health organizations
---ADHD, ADD, and other problems with inconsistent (sometimes hyperfocused) attention
---Anxiety and phobias
---Bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness)
---Borderline personality disorder
---Children's mental health
---Cutting and self-harm
---Depression, including Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
---Eating disorders
---Narcissistic personality disorder
---Obsessive-compulsive disorder (O.C.D.),
including hoarding behavior

---Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

MOVIES, FILM, AND TELEVISION (duplication to be edited out soon--if right and left brains cooperate
---Films about aging and elders
---Movies about death and dying, loss and grief

---Classical music
---Funeral anthems
---Hymns, gospel, and inspirational music
---Patriotic and military funeral music
---Popular secular music, including blues music


Obituaries and other forms of tribute to the dead
---About obituaries and obituary writing
---Books on (and of) obituary writing
---Eulogies and video tributes
---Examples of moving, memorable, amusing, or interesting obituaries and other kinds of tribute
---Lessons from Obit, the documentary
---Online obituary and memorial websites
---Self-written obituaries
---What's happening to the obit page?

Online grief, bereavement, and mourning sites, forums, and discussion groups
Opioids and psychoactive drugs, addiction to
Opioid crisis, culprits in the
Order DYING: A Book of Comfort

---Donating your body or body parts
---Organ and tissue transplants

---Addiction-related organizations and publications
---Artists with disabilities, organizations that assist
---Autism-related organizations
---Cancer research, education, and advocacy organizations
---Caregivers, Organizations helpful for
---Death- and burial-related organizations
---Healing stories and storytelling organizations and sites
---Long-term care and long-term care insurance, organizations focused on
---Mental health organizations
---Organizations serious about improving U.S. healthcare
---Organizations and online resources related to right-to-die, suicide, and other life-ending choices

---Managing ordinary (not chronic) pain
---Managing chronic pain
---Organizations associated with pain management and relief
---The medical use of marijuana
---Managing pain and improving health with yoga

---Being smart about pensions and annuities
See also
---Elder law, elder protection, and pension rights
---Social Security and veterans benefits

---End-of-life planning and choices for pets
---Grieving the loss of a pet

Preventing and dealing with frailty
Preventing elder abuse and scams (and being aware of senior guardianship problems)
Preventing falls
Philanthropy, practicing--giving to make a difference
Prayers, poems, and meditations
Purchase Dying, A Book of Comfort
Positive aging (finding fulfillment in the golden years)
Privacy issues. See HIPAA.
Private screening tests, the truth about
Pros and cons of various medical tests, treatments, habits for cardiovascular problems

Savant syndrome (See Autism.)
Sciatica, home remedies for alleviating
Smartphones, the internet, online technology, Addiction to (aka "dependence syndrome")
Smoking and smoking cessation
Sober living housing options

Social Security and veterans benefits
---Basic information about U.S. Social Security
---Being smart about pensions and annuities
---Disability benefits
---Helpful blogs, websites, organizations, and citizen lobbies about Social Security, Medicare, and pension rights
---History of (and threats to) Social Security)
---Problems with, and proposed changes to, Social Security
---Research about Social Security
---Safety net programs for the poor
---Stories and analysis of, explanations and arguments about Social Security
See also Retirement 101

The stages of grief (“The only way out is through”)
The statin wars

---The beneficial effects of life story and legacy activities
---Caregivers' stories
---Eulogies and video tributes
---How putting events into a story may aid the healing process
---How storytelling can help dementia patients (blog post)
---How storytelling is changing the way doctors treat illness
---Medical professionals' stories
---Military records, history, and archives
---Narrative medicine and medical narrative
---Obituaries and other forms of tribute
---Patient stories
---Stories of autism , individuals with
---Stories about autism, from parents and siblings
---Stories, healing, and self-understanding (a booklist)
---Stories of courage, inspiration, and other coping attitudes (short pieces, online)
---Telling your story (writing our memoirs, creating a family history, genealogical resources, oral histories, books to get started writing your own or someone else's life story--on the Pat McNees website)
---Writing personal stories about war (blog post)

The stages of grief (“The only way out is through”)
The statin wars
Substance abuse and recovery (addiction as a medical condition)
---Addiction, treatment, and recovery
---Addiction-related organizations and publications
---Alcoholism and approaches to treatment
---Drug courts, The problems with
---Eating disorders
---Gambling, Addiction to
---Opioids and psychoactive drugs, Addiction to
--- Opioid crisis, Culprits in the
---Smartphones, the internet, online technology, Addiction to (aka "dependence syndrome")
---Smoking and smoking cessation
---Sober living housing options
---The war on drugs

Superbugs, drug-resistant
---Dementia support groups and research organizations
---Grief support groups
---Online communities for caregivers

Taking the mystery out of drug prices

Telemedicine and virtual medical visits
Traveling in retirement (and otherwise)

Vaccines and vaccinations
---Anti-vaxx anti-vaccine movement
---Autism and vaccines
---Basics about vaccines
---Books about vaccines and immunization
---Conditions for which increasing immunization is important
---Measles and measles vaccines
---Vaccine information for medical professionals

--- Veterans and veterans benefits, issues with (including Agent Orange)
---Veterans healthcare, death, and survivor benefits
---Social Security and veterans benefits
---Veterans death, burial, and survivor benefits

The war on drugs
Why U.S. medical costs are so high and where the system needs fixing
Wills, trusts, legacies, and estates
Worst practices in charity world

Dying: A Book of Comfort
(healing words on loss and grief)

“This remarkable collection, coming from personal experience and wide reading, will help many
find the potential of growth through loss.” ~ Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement
One of "100 Books Recommended by Doctors"
in Washingtonian magazine

"A beautifully crafted collection of life-affirming passages from more than forty celebrated writers, thinkers, and religious voices of various faiths. These voices combine to speak eloquently to the heart of the reader about the nature of dying, and offer a way to provide words of Comfort for those who remain behind."
~ Ted Menten, author of the excellent book Gentle Closings

“...about dying and grief, yes, but more importantly, it is a book about understanding and healing. The deep truths and exquisite beauty will bring solace to many grieving hearts. A gem to be treasured.”
~ Rabbi Earl Grollman, author of Living When a Loved One Has Died

“A friend gave me a copy of Dying: A Book of Comfort when my son-in-law died. I passed it on to my grieving daughter, bought a copy for myself, and then bought five more copies, so I would have something meaningful and healing to give to friends who were facing their own or others’ deaths. We never know when death will come to those we love. This valuable resource deserves a place on everyone’s shelf as a compendium of thoughtful reflections — by famous and lesser-known writers — that affirm life even as they help us cope with death.”
~ Sally Wendkos Olds, co-author of Human Development

I was originally asked to do this book by Barbara Greenman, editor of Doubleday's Literary Guild book club. Her long-time friend was dying and she wanted to know how best to help--wanted something positive. My experience helping my father when he was dying from lung cancer had made me realize that there was little help available for people trying to do this on their own. Hospices are wonderful, in my personal experience, but they aren't there late at night when you're on your own and flying blind. So this project was a labor of love for both Barbara and me.

Nobody teaches us how to die, or how to help someone die; nor how to grieve, or how best to help the grieving. My emphasis in collecting material for this anthology was on the emotional, not the practical, aspects of death and grieving. I looked for selections that offer meaningful insights and experiences, comforting words and stories, some guidance, much reassurance.

This is not a how-to book, but I chose selections around several basic themes: the intensity with which life is experienced by people who are dying (and those who help them die), what it is like (emotionally) to die, how to help someone die, how to say good-bye,what to expect from grief, and how to console the bereaved. There are special sections on mourning the death of a parent, the death of a child, a death by suicide, or a violent, unexpected death. There are selections about near-death experiences, about life after death, and about life and death. There are prayers from many faiths as well as selections to comfort those with no religious faith. There are also selections suitable for reading at funerals and memorial services. All of the selections are short, because people who are grieving (including people who are dying) are often unable to concentrate on anything long.

This book was first published as a Literary Guild original, in an edition so lovely that both Barbara and the art director felt that of all the books they had worked on, this was the one they were proudest of. (You can't imagine how rare an experience this is for an author.) The Guild edition was not available in bookstores. Warner Books brought out a trade paperback edition, which was available in bookstores, and which adapted the original Guild design to a slightly larger format.

Frankly, although the book was fine in its paperback format, it wasn't as perfect a gift book, and as my Warner editor pointed out, Warner did not specialize in "back list" titles (those that sell quietly, year after year). When the Warner edition went out of print, the Guild agreed to print a special edition, because I was getting e-mails of frustration from people who were used to buying copies of the book to have on hand for when a friend experienced a death in the family. I am happy to report that the original Guild hardcover edition, with the lovely jacket (a soft yellow matte finish, with a small shining work of art, a bridge across water, center front), is now available again. The content is the same in both books. I have copies of both the paperback and the Guild hardcover for sale, but personally, I prefer the Guild edition.

The cover art is The White Bridge by John Henry Twachtman, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Contents (Dying: A Book of Comfort)

A partial list of contributors

Nanna Tanier, creative supervisor of the Doubleday book clubs by which DYING was first published, wrote: "I grew ever more surprised while reading Dying, A Book of Comfort. I was expecting depressing or clichéd material, but I found, instead, thoughtful, peaceful, even inspiring passages on this difficult subject. Pat McNees has helpfully organized specific topics in each chapter -- from the experience of dying to saying good-bye, to mourning a parent or child, to the journey through grief. There is even a sensitive chapter on mourning a suicide or sudden death. Additionally, there is a chapter of “Prayers in Many Voices,” where regardless of faith, you will find passages that truly speak to, and comfort you. Of the books I have designed, this is the one I am most proud of. I have given it to family and friends, all of whom have found comfort and peace in its pages."

I am happy that the lovely edition for which Nanna was art director (Debbie Glasserman was designer) is now back in print.