Death is one of the most precious experiences in life, literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Yet after many years of teaching on death and dying, I am surprised that even for spiritual practitioners death remains a dreaded event. We dread it because we don’t know about it. We don’t look forward to death because we don’t know what to look forward to.

I wrote this book to help you prepare – to illuminate the darkness of death and to give you something to look forward to. My vision was to provide a comprehensive reference manual, an encyclopedia of death. Preparing to Die is divided into two principal parts, on spiritual and practical preparation. Each of these is further divided into what to do before, during, and after death — both for yourself and for others. This provides a framework that is easily referenced during any stage of the dying process.

While Preparing to Die is directed to students of Tibetan Buddhism, it can benefit anyone interested in penetrating the mysteries of death from the Buddhist perspective. My aspiration is to take much of the mystery out of death—and therefore most of the misery— by addressing it in the most comprehensive way.

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“Offers generous spiritual and practical guidance to help us develop confidence and compassion wherever there is fear—our own or others’—confronting death. A significant contribution to the continued transplantation of the Buddha’s wisdom in Western culture. May all beings benefit!” — Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Mind Beyond Death

“A welcome addition to the literature on the Buddhist approach to death and dying. What is remarkable about this book is the way that Holecek intermingles profound spiritual insights with practical and up-to-date advice for people facing death or taking care of those who are dying.” — Judith L. Lief, author of Making Friends with Death

“There is much in this book that will appeal to anyone who has an open mind and is interested in a non-materialistic approach to death. Particularly inspiring is the ‘heart-advice’ drawn from interviews with Tibetan masters, all of whom emphasize the fundamental importance of one’s state of mind: for those who are dying, letting go, and for those who attend them, love.” — Francesca Fremantle, translator of The Tibetan Book of the Dead