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Who Dies?

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  444 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
A meaningful insight 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.
Published October 5th 2000 by Gill & Company (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
J. Oshi
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...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.
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jackie St Hilaire
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing

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
Adam Kinsey
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Craig Bergland
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Amy Backas
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
changed my life,this book,and radically changed my perspective on death and dying.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2018
This book is one that I will keep on my kindle so I can go back to it.
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
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
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Andrew McKee
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: evolved educated nurses-especially
Recommended to Mariola by: evolved educated nurse
We grieve each day,feel everything. Guide to universal lovingness -journey from disharmony
to clarity in face of passage in dignity and hope,TO RELIEF the thirsty mind.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will likely die with this book in my hands.
didn't actually finish it. Levine is a great writer, but too verbose for me. Will try it again in a few years.
Victoria Murata
Dec 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Guaranteed to change your idea of death.
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I found this book after a very dear friend died. It is deeply moving and helped shift the pain and loss.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Good read.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just amazing! I love Stephen Levine's voice and the level of understanding he brings to these topics is quite fantastic. Must read! Everyone can benefit if they can be open to it!
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Life changing! Precipitated a spiritual awakening in this atheist!
River King
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading if you are close to someone who is dear to you and is dying. Inspiring.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only concern about this book is that I now may have read the single most definitive work on the topic...
Feb 17, 2009 is currently reading it
Very deep and I'm taking my time to absorb it. I'm sure as a reader with young children my ties are different than others.

Suggested by many members of my Buddhist Meditation group.
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American poet, author and teacher best known for his work on death and dying.
More about Stephen Levine
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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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