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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

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  200 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated time and again in Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person’s care, facing their own death, or wishing to explore a ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 17th 2009 by Shambhala (first published April 1st 1997)
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Beautiful, accessible, simple and very useful.
Essential reading for any of us mortal beings!!
Judy Croome
Mar 11, 2012 Judy Croome rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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.
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
Excellent. Inspired me. Everyone should read this.
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.
Powerful with insightful meditation exercises.
Apr 22, 2014 Eric marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by my friend and colleague Joel Baron
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A good intro to contemplative Buddhist approaches to death and dying by one of the major American practitioners, with some powerful meditations and insights.
Fabulous read - full of deep insight into the wonder of living and the natural process of dying.
Mom - Joanne
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...
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.
Apr 18, 2014 Rhoda added it
Awesome book if you are dying or caring for a dying person, very Buddhist, with meditations at the end of each chapter.
Inspiring for a patient long term caregiver.
Very thought-provoking....most helpful w/ those who work in hospice, or those in the helping professions.
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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
More about Joan Halifax...
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