Cover image for Talking about death
Talking about death
Morris, Virginia.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Talking about death won't kill you
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, NC : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004.

Physical Description:
xii, 292 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published as: Talking about death won't kill you. New York : Workman, 2001.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF789.D4 M65 2001C Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Even in this candidly confessional age, we've been conditioned to avoid discussions of death. Our youth-worshipping culture does everything to deny death, which is why, when the end nears, most of us are inadequately prepared to deal with it.

And the cost of that is great: many are haunted by memories of how inappropriately or painfully or uncomfortably their parents and grandparents died. Many of us avoid even considering the options, in all their complexity, that we will most likely face one day, given our new longevity and the profound advances in medicine.

With its wise and very compelling argument that all of us, at any age, can and should face death before it faces us, Talking About Death addresses the cultural, personal, medical, and legal concerns that are necessary for us--as individuals and as a society--to prepare for a good death, a death where the dying are in control and not, as is too often the case, caught in a downward spiral of medical intervention and misunderstood intentions.

Virginia Morris skillfully weaves together personal stories and practical matters, scientific fact and spiritual sensitivity into an important book about how we can achieve a greater sense of peace in dying, and rediscover the art of living.

Author Notes

Virginia Morris is an attorney in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs.


Table of Contents

A Word of Un-Warning: Reading About Death Won't Kill Youp. 1
Jack: One Birth, One Deathp. 11
I Dying today
Unhappy Endings: Death Is Often Painful and Lonelyp. 25
A Matter of Survival: Efforts at Reform Have Fallen Shortp. 35
Mere Immortals: Death Has Become a Strangerp. 49
A Portrait of Death: A Look at Life's Endp. 63
Ars Moriendi: In Search of the "Good Death"p. 77
II Down a new path
Confronting Death: Addressing Our Fears and Beliefsp. 95
Talking About Dying: Conversations Bring Understanding and Intimacyp. 111
Choices in the End: A Look at Medical Issues and Optionsp. 127
The Possibilities: Making the Passage Richerp. 141
Putting Ink to Paper: A Review of Legal Documentsp. 161
Death Manners: Ill at Ease in the Presence of Deathp. 169
The Next Generation: Teaching Our Children About Deathp. 183
III Avoiding common obstacles
The Spiral of Hope: When Hope Is Not Helpfulp. 195
Where Is "There"?: By Waiting, We Often Miss the Boatp. 213
Taking the Blame: We Are Not the Cause of Deathp. 227
In the Land of Doctors: Navigating the Medical Terrainp. 233
IV Brilliance in the shadow of death
Ars Vivendi: The Art of Dying Teaches Us the Art of Livingp. 251
Margaret: A Lesson on Livingp. 259
Indexp. 269