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On Death and Dying

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  24,031 ratings  ·  513 reviews
One of the most important psychological studies of the late twentieth century, On Death and Dying grew out of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's famous interdisciplinary seminar on death, life, and transition. In this remarkable book, Dr. Kübler-Ross first explored the now-famous five stages of death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Through sa ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 9th 1997 by Scribner (first published 1969)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  24,031 ratings  ·  513 reviews

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Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Non-judgemental, open-minded people
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book is a sample of three seminars about life, death and the transition between both delivered by Dr. Kübler-Ross, an eminence in Near-death studies and a pioneer in researching the five stages of grief. Ross’ work mingles spirituality with rigorous science and has helped hundreds of dying people of all ages, particularly children, and their families to make peace with death and to accept it as a door to another sort of existence.
According to Dr. Ross’ observations, right after death, the b
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
To begin this review, an important quote about the way we train doctors to interact with patients:

"What happens in a society that puts more emphasis on IQ and class-standing than on simple matters of tact, sensitivity, perceptiveness, and good taste in the management of the suffering? In a professional society where the young medical student is admired for his research and laboratory work during the first years of medical school while he is at a loss of words when a patient asks him a simple que
I took a class called "Death and Dying" in 1993 or 1994 and this was our textbook.
The class and the book changed my entire viewpoint on death, grief, letting go...everything. It was, hands-down, the best, most useful, most enlightening class I took in my undergrad career.

I kept all my literature books, my Chaucer compendium, and my Shakespeare plays and I kept this book. Moreover, I kept all the notes from this class because I knew I would need them someday.

I need them all now and I can't find
Jill Hutchinson
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Having recently lost my husband, I felt compelled to re-read this classic study by Dr. Kubler-Ross who I had the privilege of meeting and dining with several years ago. This groundbreaking work describes the now well known stages of grief: denial and isolationism, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance. She explains the reasons behind each of these emotions and how to deal with them as best as one can. She uses personal interviews with the grief stricken, some of which are heartbreaking. ...more
UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

I re-read this book from time to time simply because it helps me put 'the circle of life' into perspective, and having recently had to put Honey, our 11.5 year old dog to sleep, I pulled this out again and read the parts that deal with the process and necessity and importance of allowing ourselves to grieve.
One of the most important psychological studies of the late twentieth century, On Death and Dying grew out of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's famous interdisciplinary seminar on death, life, and
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to get through this one for obvious reasons. I kind of got through most of the sections as I was going through them, although I am still in the middle of this process and reading of the whole process is beginning to help. Grief is not a straight line but rather a series of knots that I find myself having to untie again and again; I am moving through it and I have no idea where I'm going but I'm going there.
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: family, marriage
I recently lost my husband after he was diagnosed with a terminal disease. I was surprised that I haven't fallen least not yet. I decided to read this well-known book to understand the grieving process. I was surprised to read about anticipatory grief which, I now realize, is what I have been going through for the last 10 months and in particular in the last 5+ months since the diagnosis was confirmed. I understand that I may not go through all 5 stages ~ denial, anger, bargaining, de ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone else's review reminded me of this one. I read it as part of my research for a role in the play Shadowbox. Sooo interesting... not to mention highly accessible and useful for psyche babble. Kubler-Ross contends that every person adjusting to the idea of death goes through five stages (though they may bounce back and forth, skip ahead, etc., everyone hits all five at some point). They are: Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, Acceptance.

I read this book probably over 10 years ago, and I
Yassin Omar يس
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am more than grateful for you Dr. Kubler-Ross! Though it was not easy at all, but your life quest on death and dying really helped me in very sensitive situations I have been dealing with! Thank you!

"...and the stars seemed like the burning tears of that ignorant darkness."
Elyse  Walters
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this sooooooooooooooo many years ago --- I wonder if I should read it again. I use to own it!
May 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book and the research behind it clearly were revolutionary and in some ways have not yet had sufficient impact on the practice of medicine. The topic is extremely important, and many concepts put forward here have become heuristics of medical education about how to talk to dying patients (e.g., use simple, straight forward language including the word death; sit down; find a quiet spot to tell people bad news; make sure all the important people are present).

So, why did I say it was ok rather
Edwina " I LoveBooks" "Deb"
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing

I read On Death and Dying way back in 1986 when my father was dying with Lung Cancer. I just recently re read it becasue of a shocking accidental death in my family. This book helped me today as much as it did 28yrs ago. If you are going through the grief process or if you are supporting someone who is dying, This book is a must have an will greatly help you!! It written with the average person in mind. The narrative comes across for even young teens. I hig
Alek Cristea
On Death and Dying was one of the hardest books I have ever read. The subject matter was, obviously, in part the reason for this. But there was more than just the topic that made this a difficult book. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote this book at the end of the sixties, almost some fifty years ago and there is much about the world that has changed, and some of what she describes can become difficult to apply to the world we know now. Some level of personal experiences and beliefs that seemed to go a ...more
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I don't know. I read it to understand my own grieving. I suppose the introduction of the five stages of grief is pretty monumental and I have to give it credit for that. It's written very much as a psychologist's thesis, so it isn't always compelling. If clinical, though, it's still anything but insensitive. The writing is without flourish but the message, the research, the observations are all enlightening. I never understood where anger fit into my current and past experiences of grief, but it ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
It has become cliché to say we live in a society that denies death. From her experiences with dying patients, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross sheds insight into how we face, or not face, death. She details the famous Five Stages --denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance--through case studies of patients. These Five Stages, for better or worse, have become the model from which academics and lay people understand the process of dying. But more than the model, the book forces us to ga ...more
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book came at a time in my life when I had the real opportunity to talk with the sick and the dying in my posting in a pain and palliative care unit.

I was uncertain how to approach these patients and had no idea what to say. A kind friend lent me the book and I'm truly grateful.

The author speaks carefully and eloquently of the importance of listening to the patients and just giving them your time and not hurrying past them.

It also brought into focus my own mortality. I think of death in le
Miriam Krupka
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
As you can see from the title, I took this book from Ari's shelf - I had never heard of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, but it seems like anyone in the medical/psychological professions have - she created the 5 stages of reaction to trauma. Anyway, this was a great read - it started stronger than it ended- she starts with laying out her philosophy on how death should be encountered by physicians and most of the rest of the book is interviews with patients. Worthwhile read if you're interested in this top ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, on-death
This book has helped me better understand the feelings and emotions of the dying. Having lost my father to cancer not long ago, I have often found it difficult to cope and also developed a fear of death and illness. On Death and Dying might be one of those books that you might want to re-read several times just to not be oblivious and forgetful of our inevitable fate-death.

“Those who have the strength and the love to sit with a dying patient in the silence that goes beyond words will know that
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, family
I read this book 30 years ago. It was recommended I read it -- and for the life of me can't remember who recommended it -- but I'm glad whoever and wherever they are, they did. It was a difficult time for me then because I was losing a parent. Dying from disease can be an ordeal, more so for the dying, of course, but also for those of us left behind who care. Today the five stages of grief are widely known, but it was from this book I first learned of those stages. In my opinion, to have compass ...more
B. Jean
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book, and wished, oh I wished, that I had read it when my mother was dying. I can see all the points that I would change so clearly, the advice I would have taken. And I feel bitter that no one was there to tell me how to take care of her when I was alone in that house with her for weeks. I can think of all the meaningful discussions we might have had, and the comfort I could have given her. It's frustrating and heartbreaking more than words.

I honestly believe that all medical staff
Neil Mudde
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of those comfortable books,that I re-read as my partner of 39 years lay dying from bone cancer in the magnificent Princess Margaret Cancer Palliative care unit,in Toronto, were he was treated with great love, care and compassion, in spite of very little of what we like to call "Quality of life" he was cared with much love. I was able to spend 24 hours a day with him, a bed was provided for overnight stays, Robert passed away while I was with him. much of the care given there, originated with ...more
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017, classic
On Death and Dying is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' discourse on the psychological stages of grief before and after death. Ross headed a study in the 1960s where she and a team of students, doctors, and clergy interviewed patients who were suffering from various maladies with low to fair prognosis. Some of these patients knew they were in the end stages of life, others did not. Some interviewed were family members of the patients. Ross covered the various stages of death and grief and the effects on pa ...more
No Nameboy
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just 20 pages to the book, and I already give this masterpiece 5 stars... A must-read book for everybody.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
"It might be helpful if more people would talk about death and dying as an intrinsic part of life just as they do not hesitate to mention when someone is expecting a new baby." This profound statement is just one of many that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross employs in order to convey what the dying can teach medical professionals, society, and their own families. Originally published in 1969, Kübler-Ross was undoubtedly ahead of her time. The five stages of death that Kübler-Ross patiently guides the read ...more
Emily Green
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had heard a lot about Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s On Death and Dying, specifically as the quintessential understanding of grief. In fact, as far back as I can remember, in learning about the stages of grief, I remember it being in conjunction with Kubler-Ross’s book. However, upon reading the volume, it is very different from what I originally expected. My expectation was that the book would be research based and written in technical language. Perhaps based on case studies, but really a scient ...more
Lisa Haynes
Elisabeth's life's work was as an renown psychiatrist in palliative settings, this book aims to provide insights to various professionals, carers and families from the perspective of the dying. It is cited as an inter-disciplinary work, though by page 12 it's summary of the Christian theology leaves us with no hope for this life or the next. It is a summary of her perspective of the Christian faith in her lifetime which is so far removed from the experience of the ordinary Christian believer. I ...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
This is amazing. I had no idea so many people found death such a difficult topic to talk about. I don't know if it's to do with being an archaeologist (or, rather, a former archaeologist) and studying what dead people have left behind, including the evidence available in their bones, and the exhumation of graves and burial grounds that many archaeologists wind up doing as contract work which makes me so comfortable talking about death. It might also be the Asperger's, or maybe a combination of t ...more
I've been meaning to read this book for several years now. While I understand its importance in the literature of patient care and am glad that I finally read it, I couldn't help feeling that there was so much that could have been expanded upon. For example, the interviews that she included were interesting, but sometimes a little hard to follow because they were literal transcripts of her conversations with patients and didn't convey very well the emotion of the patients (and her talk of this p ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although this book was written in 1969, it is still relevant to anyone working in a helping profession. Although much of it now seems like common sense it's filled with lessons that we many times forget in the day to day encounters in our jobs.
Katie Hight
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very Helpful

This book is a helpful resource for anyone who has a family member with a terminal illness. In a culture when extending life and postponing death have become the norm, we must learn how to walk beside the terminally ill patient with grace, truth, and compassion.
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Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model. In this work she proposed the now famous Five Stages of Grief as a pattern of adjustment. These five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and accept ...more

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