woman taking care of elderly woman lying in bed reading

Peer-Recommended Resources: Books for Those Facing Terminal Illness

TheHealthPsychologist Member Contributions

Compiled by Paul T. Korte, Ph.D.


As Health Psychologists, we may encounter individuals with terminal illness and their families. For those that struggle to cope with the news of a potentially devastating illness, educational books on terminal illness may bring comfort, understanding, and acceptance during such a volatile phase in life. We asked our membership for book recommendations to share with patients and families who are experiencing the difficult adjustment to a terminal illness with the hope that others may find benefit through bibliotherapy. If you would like to share additional resources, please add them in the comment section below so our list of peer-recommended resources keeps growing.


Bernhard, T. (2018). How to be sick: A Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers (2nd ed.). Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Brach, T. (2003). Radical acceptance: Embrace your life with the heart of a Buddha. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Gawande, A. (2017). Being mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books.

James, J. W., Friedman, R., & Matthews, L. (2001). When children grieve: For adults to help children deal with death, divorce, pet loss, moving, and other losses. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kalanithi, P. (2016). When breath becomes air. New York, NY: Random House.

Karst, P. (2018). The invisible string (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Lynn, J., Schuster, J. L., & Harrold, J. (2011). Handbook for mortals: Guidance for people facing serious illness (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Mellonie, B. & Ingpen, R. (1983). Lifetimes: The beautiful way to explain death to children. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Pausch, R. (2008). The last lecture. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Riggs, N. (2017). The bright hour: A memoir of living and dying. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Sacks, O. (2015). Gratitude. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.


Thank you to all who contributed!


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