A Beginner’s Guide To The End

Practical advice for facing death and living life.


About the book

When it comes to death, we are all beginners. What we could use is a clear-eyed, big-hearted friend to hold our hand and walk us through not just the practical decisions we’ll have to make in the coming months and years, but also how to engage with loved ones and face our fears. That is why a veteran hospice & palliative medicine doctor and an experienced caregiver and journalist teamed up to guide you as well as your friends and family through the unfamiliar to-do lists and the emotional and medical choices that often overwhelm us. The guide begins well before a diagnosis and ends well after the memorial. No subject is too small: Did you know you can buy a casket at Walmart? That you can crawl into bed to cuddle with your loved one at the hospital? That a medical student may be your best ally? That you can create a “When I Die” file to hep unburden your family and pass along meaningful keepsakes? There are lessons for caregivers, too, like how to get help at home, shut down social media accounts, clean out the condo, and write a good eulogy.

“There is nothing wrong with you for dying,” B.J. Miller and Shoshana Berger write in their introduction to the book. “Our ultimate purpose here isn’t so much to help you die as it is to free up as much life as possible until you do.”


Talks by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger

CreativeMornings HQ

Things Death Teaches Us About Life.

TED 2015

What really matters at the end of life.

Stanford Medicine X

The problem with dying and what might we do about it.