Sacred Dying Book

Sacred Dying: Creating Rituals for Embracing the End of Life

~ by Megory Anderson ~

Paperback edition published by Marlowe & Company.


(To purchase this book, click here.)


Death may be inevitable, but dying alone or in fear does not have to be. Sacred Dying is theologian Megory Anderson’s essential testimonial and handbook for creating a dignified, peaceful, and more sacred end to life. Anderson shows how to use personalized and creative rituals to help those dying prepare for their death and to bring a sense of peace, reconciliation, and acceptance both to themselves and to the loved ones they leave behind. She discusses all aspects of this final transition, including how to help a dying person put “unfinished business” to rest; using massage to help the dying let go of his or her body; and how to use music to help the dying focus on specific times, places, or events. Also included – new to this first paperback edition – is a chapter on what can be done after death, to help move the soul along. Intended for those who are going through the death of a loved one as well as those facing death personally, Sacred Dying facilitates creating a setting where death is experienced as it should be: with honor, respect, and sacredness.


Chapter Headings:

  • Journey with the Dying
  • Returning the Sacred to the Act of Dying
  • Rituals for Embracing the End of Life
  • Traditions: Incorporating Religious Rituals
  • Centering and Preparation: Sacred Space/Sacred Participants
  • Letting Go of Burdens: Rituals to Release the Emotions
  • Letting Go of the Body: Rituals to Comfort and Release
  • Music: Healing and Transcendence
  • When Loved Ones Are Not Present
  • Dying Alone
  • Intentional Death: Ending Life Support
  • After Death: Until the Funeral
  • The Soul’s Journey


An excerpt from the Foreword by Thomas More:

“It isn’t easy to live and die meaningfully in a society that has forgotten its natural religious roots. We think we’re smart and sophisticated because we have outgrown the need for ritual and prayer. We have vanquished religion intellectually and therefore surprised when, faced with our own death or illness or with the dying of a loved one, we don’t have the answers to the basic questions. And so we have to learn all over again, remembering our traditions, if we’re lucky enough to have had them, and looking for someone to help us deal with mysteries we’ve ignored…

These lessons and much more, thankfully, are all to be found in this wise and useful book by Megory Anderson. What I appreciate most in her teaching is her understanding that spirituality and life are inseparable, indeed indistinguishable. For me, one of the first stories is the key to the book and to the work of healing body, soul, and spirit. A dying woman, confused when told to remember her baptism, has the luck to have Megory Anderson nearby to wash her hair slowly and luxuriously. Afterward she can say, “That was my baptism.” The spiritual life is not restricted to what goes on in church or to the traditional language and ceremonies. The soul knows what it needs, and a major part of spiritual care is to pay close attention to the deep desires of those who are dying, even if those wishes are plain and apparently insignificant…

Megory Anderson covers most of the difficult questions associated with the act of dying and attendant care, and her recommendations are intelligent, inventive, and mercifully humane… Megory is someone who obviously has a background in ritual and has spent enough years at it, with sufficient attention and skepticism, to know the real thing from the merely sentimental. I always get nervous when people talk about making up rituals, but this book, I’m happy to say, is a solid guide…

I’ve read quite a few books on dying and one of the remarkable things that impresses me about them is how they teach me to live with care and appreciation. They are not at all morbid, and they are not for someone else. They speak to me, as this book will speak to you…. This is one book to keep at hand, because you can be sure that one day you will need it.”