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Who Dies?: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying
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Who Dies?: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  51 reviews
While many books have dealt with the 'stages of dying', and particularly the stages of acceptance of death, this is the first to demonstrate how to open the immensity of living with death. 'Who Dies?' shows us how to participate fully in life as the perfect preparation for whatever may come next, be it sorrow or joy, loss or gain, death or a new wonderment at life.

Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Published October 10th 2012 by Anchor (first published 1982)
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Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've actually been reading this book off and on for about 4 years. It is an amazing book, and I highly recommend it for everyone. It is one of those books that you read a little, then put it down for a few weeks to process what you have read before you go back to it. I have re-read many chapters over the years, but I don't think I have actually made it to the end yet. I like that it draws from many traditions, for example Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and Native American, as death is universal. J ...more
Gavin Whyte
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could've given it a million and one stars, I would've done. Amazing. It's rare to find a book that one connects with so deeply. It's the book I've always wanted to write. It resonated with me in such a profound way that I almost felt like I had some involvement in its creation. A true gift to humanity. If it was written and published now it would be on the best-sellers list, I'm certain. Thank you, Stephen Levine for writing this amazing book. ...more
J. Oshi
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is more about LIFE, than dying. "Live as if today is your last." This book was for a Death & Dying class while I was at UCSC (1986), but it in retrospect, it was really for me. The book helped me cope with my brother's illness and eventual death. It led to many discussions with him and others about terminal illness. In his book, Levine notes that at the time our life ends, our spirit begins to leave our body. He adds that we can feel the spirit like a gentle breeze if we place our hand ...more
Jackie St Hilaire

Dare to live, leave no unfinished business behind you. Now is the time.

Why do we resist death? Could it be that we are resisting the very life that we have been given.

Stephen Levine calls us to the examined life and to be accountable for who and where we are in our inner development. We come to the realization that we have not been fully born. We have been neglecting parts of ourselves, protecting ourselves, shielding ourselves for fear of not being accepted. It is a vicious cycle that most of u
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism, spiritual
Stephen Levine was a contemporary of Ram Dass. Good integration of spiritual practices of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and native american practices and philosophies surrounding dying. Because humans have different names for emotions, feelings, and spiritual practices there is much miscommunication between people.

Not a feel good book.
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. Death is a difficult subject, but this book is more about living than anything else. After surviving ovarian cancer, I needed to make my peace with death, and this book helped me do that. I will probably reread this book for the rest of my life.
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual-stuff
Despite the title and the topics covered, you could say this book is about life. If I were to have a bible(or believe in needing one) this book would be it.
Craig Bergland
This book needed an editor. Sentences are hit or miss, more often sentence fragments than actual sentences along with poor or missing punctuation made it almost unreadable at times. Still there are some jewels here - along with some pretty blatant instances of conclusions not based on the evidence and confusing correlation and causation. Read Joan Halifax instead
Adam Kinsey
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: death-grieving
This is one of those books where you go in one person and come out another. Looking into the reality of one's own mortality is weirdly simple (yeah, we're going to die), and transformative if you've bought into the modern world's avoidance. Levine has spent so much thoughtful, caring time in the company of death, and he brings us, the readers, a calm, thoughtful, yet uncompromising voice.

It is dense, and it is intense. This book is 317 pp and it took me 5 months to read. Busy months, but still,
Renee Layberry
Stephen Levine offers a gentle perspective that is inclusive, comforting, and lucid. I respected the lack of dogma and the introduction to the Buddhist perspective without feeling "preached to." The writing and editing felt somewhat muddled at times, but the book delivered what I'd hoped. All told, it is a valuable read for those seeking to explore and expand a perspective on the dying process which we must all embrace in one capacity or another. ...more
Amy Backas
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
changed my life,this book,and radically changed my perspective on death and dying.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who wish to be able to be with the dying, be it self or another.
Shelves: dying-death
So glad a new friend lent me her well-loved copy; it helped me at a time of sitting with the first person I've sat with as they died, and continues to inform my practice as a hospice-volunteer and end-of-life guide.

In particular I got the most from two chapters near the back - from memory they were one on suicide, the other being with the dying.

Book includes some meditations that may be read to self or a dying person.

Very poetic, beautiful read and knowledge gained from many years of being wi
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for the first time about 30 years ago. I re-read it for a number of reasons. I am getting older, getting closer to dying, I am getting involved in hospice care and I am trying to get past the death-phobic mind set that pervades our society. Levine has lots to say about all of this. His views are distinctly Buddhist but not presented in a dogmatic way. For those who are interested, there are chapters that are devoted to Buddhist philosophy but the book is worth reading even if th ...more
Chet Taranowski
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about facing death and helping others through the dying process. The book is not an easy read emotionally as it does the job of breaking through one's denial of death so effectively. I found myself avoiding picking it up, but at the same time knowing that the message was important enough so as to read on. Although the author has a Buddhist orientation he leaves room for all forms of religious faith. He relies on the concept of an afterlife, however, he leaves this undefined; so it ...more
David Boyd
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A necessary read for everyone

A great book giving a very broad and loving perspective of death. It helped me realize that I need to concentrate of my own preparations plus it gives excellent advice on accompanying others through the process.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2018
This book is one that I will keep on my kindle so I can go back to it.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
loved it. sometimes a little woo wooey but great nonetheless
Betsy Munro Jeffrey
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I left highlighter and notes ALL OVER this book
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very helpful treatise on death and dying. If you're mortal and have any leaning towards spirituality or are even just curious about death, you'll benefit from reading this tremendously. ...more
Ann Viveros
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book for everyone to read!
Maria Luisa
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This was a slow and Heavy read for me but necessary. I intend to go back and do the meditations on the 2nd read. Powerful and necessary
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Have you ever had a book grab a hold of your heart and squeeze? I've owned this book for fifteen years and this is my third time reading it. Each time it brings me something different; a slight grasp of death as transition, some peace and ease, and this time unbounded and wholehearted understanding of what it means to live life in fullness without hiding the parts of who we are that seem unacceptable, but without which we are incomplete. Sometimes you just don't get it until you're ready to "get ...more
Lenny Husen
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I've ever read. Read it in the 1980's and never forgot it. If you are at all interested in Death and Dying or are afraid of Death or curious about Buddhism, if you are at all open minded and believe (even a little bit) in Life After Death, this book is for you.

Finished reading for second time. Read in my 20's and in my 50's. A truly great book, really well written.
Levine discusses many aspects about Death: suffering, the dying process, being present for patients or
Steve Woods
I have found most of Levine's writing both informative and sometimes inspiring. This one was a little disappointing to me, though it does contain some very interesting ideas. This issue, dying is something I am now beginning to pay attention to, not only because I am in the middle of my "sunset years" but also because of its wider significance in my daily practice. The surrender to the process seems to be essentially the same as that one needs for the more mundane issues in life that become the ...more
Mason Wren
Fantastic. I loved this book so much. It is full of wisdom. Written by a man who is both poet and spiritual practitioner, it has both beauty and depth. So many times it would make me pause and think, "YES!!" (Like when he writes in the first chapter, "Until we have nothing to hide, we cannot be free." It is philosophical as it examines mindfulness and death, yet practical with stories and meditations. And yet at the same time it is far more than both philosophical and practical as it invites its ...more
Sherry T.
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me, this was a truly sobering book. I read it slowly and carefully and found myself experiencing a variety of feelings as I made my way through it. At one point, when I caught myself feeling indignant and considering closing the book and never again opening it, I realized it was because the difficult truth of the impermanence of life in the body and the ordinary process of death was frightening me. I'm
glad I mustered the courage to return and continue reading. This book offered me a complete
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a long slog ; not because it was poorly written but because it is so heavy that I could only read a few lines and then ponder them for days. I picked it up because I thought it might help me to deal with a friends struggle with sickness and approach to death and how to help. I think I gained insight on the role of a friend during the dying process.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an invaluable book with profound wisdom that helped me LIVE. It is not only about finding peace with death, but indeed, about finding peace with life as well. The content of this book imparts so much wisdom, I have returned to it again and again throughout my life life, and each time, I learned or accepted something new and helpful.
Andrew McKee
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Only spared it 5 stars because it was a bit wordy at points. Inspirational, memorable and moving. A must-read for anyone dealing with death of a loved one or struggling for ways to deal with their own ultimate passing in a mindful, loving and understanding way.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this so much I have placed several more of Levine's books on my wish list. It seems to be not only a healthier way to approach death, but a healthier way to approach life too. Really a great read for anyone involved with those who are at the end of their life journey. ...more
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American poet, author and teacher best known for his work on death and dying.

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“When we recognize that, just like the glass, our body is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, then life becomes precious, and we open to it just as it is, in the moment it is occurring. When we understand that all our loved ones are already dead — our children, our mates, our friends — how precious they become. How little fear can interpose; how little doubt can estrange us. When you live your life as though you're already dead, life takes on new meaning. Each moment becomes a whole lifetime, a universe unto itself.

When we realize we are already dead, our priorities change, our heart opens, and our mind begins to clear of the fog of old holdings and pretendings. We watch all life in transit, and what matters becomes instantly apparent: the transmission of love; the letting go of obstacles to understanding; the relinquishment of our grasping, of our hiding from ourselves. Seeing the mercilessness of our self-strangulation, we begin to come gently into the light we share with all beings. If we take each teaching, each loss, each gain, each fear, each joy as it arises and experience it fully, life becomes workable. We are no longer a "victim of life." And then every experience, even the loss of our dearest one, becomes another opportunity for awakening.

If our only spiritual practice were to live as though we were already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do, as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing? If we lived our life as though we were already dead, as though our children were already dead, how much time would there be for self-protection and the re-creation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only the truth.”
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