The reading of this bibliography will require the courage of a believer and the humility of a learner. I am a believer in research reports and in reflective essays on the subject of dying and death. This bifocal approach to thanatology requires courage to hold in tension the scientific and the philosophical/theological aspects of a subject which inevitably flows beyond our experience. On the one hand, empirical research depends upon our authentication of another person's experience, and that of us can really imagine our own death? We can only report the experience of observing the death of another, or we try as a dying person to explain that which others have not yet felt. On the other hand, philosophy/theology proposes meaning and purpose in death, which can be experienced in the present and shared in some community of faith between those who know the time of their death and those who do not.
But who is in our particular "community of faith" and how can we trust our lives to meaning and purpose that transcends our experience? These questions drive us to the humility of learners before the everlasting mystery of death and dying. The history of the subject and range of concerned disciplines of study are staggering. Only the arrogant and the ignorant can confidently assert that their "facts" or their "faith" provide all that we need to know about death.
With some courage I present in this bibliography a multidisciplinary outline on death and dying that seeks to be comprehensive without being exhaustive. With some humility forced upon me by four years of bibliographic study I present annotations that are representative of fields with which I have some acquaintance. The selections are not exhaustive, and perhaps not even judicious in any one discipline; and many chosen references