Nancy Manahan & Becky Bohan
Authors and Activists
Other Resources

Highly Recommended Books from Beaver's Pond Press:

Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time: Practical Advice for Preventing Cancer, by Lynne Eldridge, M.D. and David Borgeson, M.S.,M.P.T. (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2006) provides solid, practical advice for preventing cancer by avoiding carcinogens and implementing lifestyle/dietary practices that modify cancer causing factors.

A Bridge for Grandma by Carol McCormick (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2006) is one of the few books written about a child’s near-death experience. The girl meets her grandfather in heaven and when she returns to life, the story of this experience comforts her grandmother. When the grandmother dies, the girl knows she is happy with grandfather.

Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond by Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan (2007). Foreword by Bill Manahan, M.D. An inspiring book that describes a holistic nurse’s integrative approach to breast cancer, Diane Manahan’s extraordinarily full and vibrant life for five years after diagnosis, her beautiful death at home, the family-directed cremation and funeral, and astonishing after-death communications. A supplemental guidebook offers practical suggestions for dealing with a life-threatening illness or death. Includes photos, appendices, and an annotated bibliography.

A Mirthful Spirit: Embracing Laughter for Wellness, by Mary Huntley and Edna Thayer (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2007). A description of the benefits of humor for health, with tips for maintaining mirth at home, on the job, and during times of stress.

Thin Places: Where Faith Is Affirmed and Hope Dwells by Mary Treacy O’Keefe (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2005). An account of the death of Mary’s parents and the “thin places” family and friends have experienced between the physical and spiritual realms.

Other Recommendations:

Alison’s Gift: The Song of a Thousand Hearts Opening by Pat Hogan (NOSILA Publishing, 1999). The true story of seven-year-old Alison, rendered brain dead in a car accident. After she died in the hospital, her family cared for her body during a home vigil before she was cremated. The book, which inspired Diane Manahan and her family to investigate non-traditional ways of caring for her body, is available from Highly recommended.

Bach for the Bath by Dan Gibson. The beautiful Bach variations selected by and played for Diane Manahan at the moment of her death.

Becoming Well Within Minnesota, a directory of integrative healing resources in Minnesota.

Beyond Knowing—Mysteries and Messages of Death and Life from a Forensic Pathologist by Janis Amatuzio (New World Library, 2006). A second book of personal experiences and inspiring stories about families of those whose deaths Dr. Amatuzio has investigated.

Breast Cancer Action. A national organization working to transform breast cancer from a private medical crisis to a public health issue so that more research and funding go toward prevention and universal access to effective treatment.

Cancer Essays: Not the Book I was Planning to Write by Dorothy Sauber. This eloquent book about living with terminal cancer is a powerful  blend of wide-ranging essays and intimate journal entries from a wise teacher of writing.  Free download at

Cancer in Two Voices by Sandra Butler and Barbara Rosenblum (Spinsters Ink Books, 2nd edition, 1996).  First published in 1991, this poignant, deeply personal account shows a lesbian couple dealing with breast cancer. They unflinchingly chronicle the effects of radiation and chemotherapy, the impact of the diagnosis and treatment on their relationship, their own cultural differences, and the prevailing medical attitude toward women's illnesses.  Highly recommended. Amazon.

CaringBridge News. A free health crisis website to update friends and extended family diagnosis or treatment.  Messages for patients can be posted.

Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love by Lisa Carlson (Upper Access Publishers, 1997). A comprehensive guide to home deaths and funeral arrangements with state-by-state legal information compiled by the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance. See updated, expanded 2011 edition, Final Rights, below. 

Choices at the End of LIfe: Finding Out What Your Parents Want Before It's Too Late by Linda Norlander and Kerstin McSteen (Fairview Press, 2001). Two palliative care nurses offer guidelines for family discussions about advanced care planning with useful examples and a glossary of hospice terms.

Coming to Rest
: A Guide to Caring for Our Own Dead, an Alternative to the Commercial Funeral
by Julie Wiskind and Richard Spiegel (Dovetail, Inc., 1998). A practical guide to a more comfortable, personalized after-death care of a loved one. Amazon.

Companions for the Passage: Stories of the Intimate Privilege of Accompanying the Dying. Marjorie Ryerson (University of Michigan Press, 2005. A collection of stories based on interviews with
people who have witnessed the death of a loved one. The diversediverse include personal reflections by Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well. Amazon.

Conscious Living, Conscious Dying. A website on vital aging, conscious dying, and alternative death care, with links to Minnesota and national resources.

Crossings: Caring for Our Own at Death. A resource center providing education and inspiration to families for better experiences in after-death care, with or without a funeral director, and for exercising choices that will bring about greater healing following the loss of a loved one. Offers a 37-page step-by-step resource guide for a home funeral. Available as a $25 booklet or as a free PDF download. Highly recommended.

Crossing the Threshold: Practical and Spiritual Guidance on Death and Dying by Philip Martyn and Nicholas Wijnberg (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2003). Based on Rudolf Steiner's teachings, this 69-page book includes practical and spiritual guidance on death and dying. It offers advice on the arrangement of funerals, laying out of the body, legal requirements and wills. Steiner Books.

Dreams, Visions, and Visitations of the Dying” by Marty Hogan (2008). An inspiring 24-page pamphlet about hospice patients whose deathbed experiences (regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs) tell about life after death.

Dying at Home: A Family Guide for Caregiving by Andrea Sankar (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991; second edition, 2000). An honest examination by a medical anthropologist of people’s experiences caring for terminally ill family members at home.

The End of Life Adivsor: Personal, Legal, and Medical Considerations for a Peaceful, Dignified Death by Susan R. Dolan and Audrey R. Vizzard (Kaplan, 2008). This thoughtful, engaging handbook, encouraging families to have conversations about dying, contains practical advice and heartfelt guidance to dramatically improve the last days of life. Written by a mother-daughter team of hospice volunteers with experience in nursing, law, and psychology, The End-of-Life Advisor shows the remarkable benefits of hospice care. Highly recommended.

The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Longtime Hospice Nurse by Barbara Karnes, RN (BK Books, Inc., 2003). Clear, honest, personal stories and invaluable information, including the common signs of approaching death, grief, living wills, and much more.

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly (Bantam, 1997). Longtime hospice nurses share intimate experiences with patients at the end of life. The “final gifts” are the peace and reassurance offered to the dying by their caregivers, and the comfort and enlightenment offered by the dying to those attending them. Highly recommended.

Final Passages. Booklets of instructions for a home funeral and courses on personal and legal rights concerning family-directed funerals, cremation, and burial.

Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death, Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson, Upper Access Press, 2011.  "The book the funeral industry doesn't want you to read" by two founders of the funeral consumer movement, with necessary information to care for your own dead in your own state. Highly recommended.

Five Wishes. An inexpensive, thorough 12-page legal living will for making plans in case one is incapacitated, seriously ill, or dying.

Forever Ours: Real Stories of Immortality and Living from a Forensic Pathologist by Janis Amatuzio (New World Library, 2004). A book of inspiring stories about end-of-life experiences by Minnesota’s “Compassionate Coroner.”

Funeral Consumers Alliance. A non-profit organization that provides information about affordable and meaningful funerals.

Gone from My Sight by Barbara Karnes, RN (BK Books, 2nd edition, 2005). A fifteen-page gem, concisely describing in layperson’s terms the typical stages of the dying process during the weeks and hours leading up to death. Highly recommended.

Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber by Ken Wilber (Shambhala, 1991; 2nd edition, 2000). Transpersonal philosopher Ken Wilber’s searing account of his wife’s five-year journey with aggressive breast cancer woven through with insightful reflections on psychotherapy, mysticism, and meditation. Treya's poignant journal entries share the extraordinary couple's story from her point of view. 

Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die by Sushila Blackman (Weatherhill, 1997). Over 100 stories of how Buddhist monks have met death with grace and dignity.

Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Death by Mark Harris (Scribner, 2008). An environmental journalist describes various environmentally sensitive alternatives to expensive, toxic conventional funeral practices. Highly recommended.

Guide to Caregiving in the Final Months of Life
 by Betsy Murphy, R.N. (TM Brown, 2007). A 64-page booklet by a hospice nurse offering a clear, concise, compassionate way too identify when dying actually begins. Walks the reader through the process of caring for someone who is actively dying.  Highly recommended.

Handbook for Creating a Home Funeral by Jerri Lyons and Janelle Va Melvin, 1998. Guidebook for dignified, legal, ecological, and economical alternatives to conventional funeral practices by founders of the home funeral movement.

Health Journeys Resources for Mind, Body, and Spirit. Produces guided imagery audiotapes and CDs by psychotherapist Belleruth Naperstek and other healers. Some are specifically for use during chemotherapy.

If I Should Die . . . The Dying Process” by Marty Hogan (2006). A gentle 35-page guide for family caregivers detailing emotional and physical changes as death approaches. Includes 10 pages of prayers that can be read aloud. Available in Spanish: “Si Yo Muriera...El Proceso De La Muerte"

Ladies in White is an organization of women who carry cremains (ashes) into Montana wildlands. Following each scattering journey, Ladies in White makes a donation toward the preservation of our nation’s wilderness areas, national forests and other precious public lands.

Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System by Stephen Kiernan (St. Martin's Press, 2006). A plea for changing the the medicalization of death.  People with a terminal illness deserve to die quietly, in their own homes, surrounded by loved ones and as pain-free as possible.  Highly recommended.

Laughing in a Waterfall: A Mother’s Memoir by Marianne Dietzel (Laughing Bridge Publishing, 2010). 

The poignant true story of a teenager’s death in a car accident, her home funeral and green burial, and her parents’ grief and eventual acceptance of Nina’s destiny and their new spiritual relationship with her. Highly recommended.

Living into Dying: A Journal of Spiritual and Practical Deathcare for Family and Community by Nancy Jewel Poer (White Feather Publishing, 2002). Personal stories of caring for loved ones at the threshold of death and after, including vigils, building a casket, and practical aspects of caring for a body at home. Highly recommended. Website also offers a documentary on the conscious choices and home death of Nancy Poer's brother; DVD available.

Living in Process: Basic Truths for Living the Path of the Soul by Anne Wilson Schaef (Wellspring/Ballantine, 1999). A model for living with authenticity and integrating the spiritual into all aspects of one’s life. Includes inspiring real-life stories and wisdom from Native peoples around the globe.


Minnesota Threshold Network: Twin Cities organization for people interested in end-of-life issues such as home death care, home funerals, and green burials.

My Final Wishes: 
A fill-in-the-blank workbook to record for end of life preferences, including wishes for the funeral, burial and memorial service; information regarding death certificates and the obituary; legalities for a home funeral in Wisconsin; and an excellent list of common funeral myths.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. A national organization offering valuable information and support for end-of-life and palliative care.

The Needs of the Dying: A Guide for Bringing Hope, Comfort and Love to Life’s Final Chapter by David Kessler (Harper, 1997). A classic guidebook for each phase of dying, endorsed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Amazon.

On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying. A four-part PBS documentary exploring more humane options for end-of-life experiences. 2006.

Open to Hope Foundation.  Helps those who have suffered a loss cope with their pain and find hope for the future. Sponsors Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley's Internet radio show Healing the Grieving Heart and The Grieg Blog:

Pathways Health Crisis Resource Center. A Minneapolis center offering free classes and individual sessions for persons facing cancer and life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

Pink Ribbon, Inc., by Samantha King (University of Minnesota Press, 2006). A critical analysis of the philanthropy, corporate stakes, marketing, and public policy that influence the perception and reality of breast cancer in America.

Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness by Jeanne Achterberg, Barbara Dossey, and Leslie Kolkmeier (Bantam, 1994). A practical guide for using the power of the imagination to create rituals that help restore health.

Sacred Vigil” by Marty Hogan (2007). User-friendly 60-page pamphlet offering sensitive, step-by-step advice from a long-time hospice social worker. Includes 24 pages of poetry and prayers that can be read to a dying person.

Telling My Life’s Story” by Marty Hogan (2006). A practical 18-page guide to conducting a life review with hospice patients.

This Thing Called Grief: New Understanding of Loss by Thomas M. Ellis (Syren Books, 2006). A short, clear book on the painful but necessary process of grieving a loss by the firectors of the Center of Grief, Loss, & Transition in St. Paul, MN.

Threshold Care Circle: Wisconsin organization that supports people to care for their dead at home and carry out a family-directed funeral according to their spiritual and/or cultural beliefs. Publisher of the booklet "My Final Wishes" (see above).

Undertaken with Love:
A Home Funeral Guide for Congregations and Communities
(2009). A study guide manual that shows faith communities, other social organizations, and home funeral advocates how to support family-directed home funerals. Available as a $15 bound guide or as a free PDF download. Highly recommended.

Well Within
. A resource center in St. Paul, Minnesota, that assists people seeking balance and wellness while dealing with health challenges. Offers low-cost classes, support groups, Healing Touch, Qigong, massage, art therapy, counseling and more.

What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life by David Kuhl (PublicAffairs, 2003). Helpful stories and suggestions for pain management, support groups, and initiating conversations about death, based on the physician-author’s years of working with terminally ill patients. Highly recommended. Amazon.

Who Dies? An Investigation into Conscious Living and Conscious Dying by Steven Levine (Anchor, 1988). A longtime death and grief counselor reflects on what it means to live life to the fullest. Includes excellent recommendations for dealing with pain and preparing to die. Amazon.