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Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death
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Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

4.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  326 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In this long-awaited book of inspiring and practical teachings, Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax offers the fruits of her many years of work with dying people. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person's care, who are facing their own death, or who are wishing to explore and contemplate the tra ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Shambhala (first published April 1st 1997)
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Community Reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 01, 2016 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2016
This is an excellent text for anyone facing death (in a more specific way than the way everyone is headed towards death) or who will be handling the emotions and stress involved in someone else who is dying, especially someone close to you. The underlying philosophy is Buddhist but the practical mindfulness techniques included in each chapter would be helpful to people in any belief system (or lack there of.) How to let go. How to take care of yourself. How to be present with another person's ex ...more
Oct 21, 2008 Bg rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, accessible, simple and very useful.
Essential reading for any of us mortal beings!!
Judy Croome
Mar 11, 2012 Judy Croome rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Caregivers
BEING WITH DYING is specifically aimed at professional caregivers, but non-professional caregivers, such as family members and friends who provide caregiving for a dying person, will find excellent support to guide them along their spiritual path.

With unflinching honesty and deep compassion for the dying person, Halifax explores all the aspects of dying and death that, in being with a dying person, a caregiver may experience. She deals with the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional processes
Jane B.
Jul 11, 2013 Jane B. rated it it was amazing
This book was so inspiring, both as it helped me look at the Buddhist approach to being with someone who is dying and looking at my own mortality. The most significant learning for me was the author's three most significant tenets of being with the dying: not knowing, bearing witness, and compassionate action. I try to take a minute and focus on these before I visit a Hospice patient...and these tenets help me be in the best possible place for these visits.
Aug 05, 2008 Kelley rated it it was amazing
I'm very eager to read this one, as it seems most aligned with how I want to approach my mother's death.

This book was so helpful in how we cared for my mother in her last days. It gave me the confidence I needed to let her go and make sure she knew we'd be ok. Of course, I'm not entirely convinced I will be ok at least, not anytime soon.
Mar 08, 2013 Collette rated it it was amazing
This is a great spiritual book. I think I am more buddhist than any other religion, and I love this books focus on meditation and being in the present...a great read on the side while I am finishing up the very long and intense fiction book I'm reading!
Aug 11, 2014 Mae rated it it was amazing
I read this book in preparation for a course I was to take with Roshi Joan Halifax at Upaya Zen Center. It is a very important book for everyone to read at least once in their lifetime. Why? Because we all deal with death sooner or later, and we all die eventually. This helps prepare you for when that someone you love is dying. But more importantly, it helps you remember that valuable lesson - it is only through understanding death that we can truly live our own life. Beautiful, Roshi. Thank you ...more
May 23, 2016 Colleen rated it it was amazing
An amazing book sharing the Buddhist way of being with dying. Inspiring. Amazing. Beautiful. I am so much more ready to help my friends and family handle pain and death. I am so much more ready to handle pain and death myself. Thank you.
Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax's work is a source of wisdom for those who wish to explore and contemplate the transformative power of the dying process, as well as those who are charged with a dying person's care or facing their own death. ... She notes that all of us will ultimately have to deal with the loss of parents and loved ones and that most of us are largely unprepared emotionally for their deaths. ... The book offers lessons from dying people and caregivers, as well as guided meditation ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Monty rated it really liked it
This book presents a Buddhist perspective on death and dying along with tie ins to how our US culture is so fearful of death. I must say that there is something about the way it is written that the prose didn't grab me, and I had to force myself to keep reading. It got easier to follow along towards the second half of the book. In spite of that, the information presented and the meditations suggested (there are meditations at the end of each chapter) are well worth the time. Anita and I will be ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Loralee rated it really liked it
This book was a gift from a friend while my Mother was in her final journey on earth.
Provides perspective on death and gave me strength and comfort to be with her during her last days. Highly recommended for reflection and looking at our own mortality.
Jack Oughton
Jan 21, 2016 Jack Oughton rated it really liked it
If you can make your peace with your inevitable mortality, you can make your peace with anything.
This is formidable content worth reading.
Jan 14, 2010 Dnicebear rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important time to review this book considering the suffering and loss of life in Haiti due to a powerful earthquake. I am borrowing this book from Chenoa who is borrowing is from one of her friends. I especially appreciate the meditations suggested after each chapter. The central one "Strong Back, Soft Front" teaches me to let all the dualities of my body teach, lead and inform my hopefully compassionate presence in the world. Practicing many of the phrases in the book helps me locate ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Nadia rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Inspired me. Everyone should read this.
Dec 03, 2014 T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-novels
Extremely wide ranging discussion of what we all must face. Found it informative and helpful, both as a potential caregiver and in thinking about my own death.
Nov 17, 2014 Hillary rated it it was amazing
Powerful with insightful meditation exercises.
Apr 22, 2014 Eric marked it as to-read
Recommended by my friend and colleague Joel Baron
Jun 10, 2013 Eileen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-of-life-care
Have read this book in true book form, and just completed the Kindle version. This is possibly the best guide for people who work in any segment of End-of-Life Care, or for any of us learning about the beauty of living and dying. The meditations are lovely and helpful, and Roshi Joan's words of compassionate connection with all beings stir my heart. During the past 2 1/2 years, I've carried my Kindle with me during hospice volunteering visits, and shall continue to do so.
Sep 27, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
I may not be spiritually in tune enough to really appreciate this book. The dying process is epic, deep and profound in this author's telling. In my experience as a nurse, it seems to be, more frequently, a simple, peaceful fact of life with suffering alleviated by family presence and medications as much as any spiritual epiphany or breakthrough. I would never advocate for a non-medicated death when there is physical suffering involved.
Karl W.
Jan 06, 2010 Karl W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, buddhism
This is a really helpful book with insights about how to approach dealing with people -- including yourself -- facing death. Joan Halifax seasons her text with numerous real-life examples of the kinds of problems that may arise and the approaches that might help to overcome them. This is a book for both the living and the dying, and given that we are all both, it is a book for us all.
Melissa Ann Goodwin
Nov 30, 2013 Melissa Ann Goodwin rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book to help with life transitions and accepting the cycles of life. Helpful not just for dealing with situations around death, but also with learning non-attachment and how to navigate difficult times for yourself and loved ones.
May 30, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
This is end of life Zen style. This book is an expansion on a pamphlet she wrote in 2003 "Being with the Dying: The Four Boundless Abodes". I liked the book. There is nothing really earth shattering or new per se but some good reminders.
Aug 02, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it
This book is written by a Zen priest. She uses Buddhist philosophy to deal with illness, death, family and personal relationships. She is very insightful and I have learned a great deal to help with my work in hospice.
Feb 18, 2010 Katherine rated it really liked it
An amazing book, filled with wisdom from Joan Halifax's thirty plus years of being present with people as they are dying. This book is a wonderful companion for my writing, my hospice work, and my meditation practice.
Mar 22, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing
This is a wise, tutoring book on being alive, and being with the truths of death, our own someday death and others' deaths. It's a book about being able to live with more freedom and generosity of spirit.
Mar 15, 2009 Katherine rated it liked it
Author discusses her expereince of working with dying and grief. Author's work is influenced with her Buddist practice, and she provides examples of pertinent meditaions each chapter.
Nov 22, 2013 Mommyhungry rated it really liked it
A good intro to contemplative Buddhist approaches to death and dying by one of the major American practitioners, with some powerful meditations and insights.
Jun 23, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read - full of deep insight into the wonder of living and the natural process of dying.
Mom - Joanne
Oct 31, 2009 Mom - Joanne rated it liked it
At this time of life I thought this book would help to look at a reality with compassion and fearlessness. It does!

Mediations are well done...
Sep 28, 2012 Careyleah rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing exploration of dying, and how to do it...or at least talk about how to die. It is one I will reread often, I think.
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Joan Halifax is a Zen Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, ecologist, civil rights activist, hospice caregiver, and the author of several books on Buddhism and spirituality. She currently serves as abbot of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Halifax has received dharma transmission from both Bernard Glassman and Thich Nhat Hanh, and studied under Korean master Seung Sahn. In the 1970s she coll ...more
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