Present Through The End

A Caring Companion’s Guide to Accompanying the Dying

by Kirsten DeLeo

This small guide is more than a book. It is a trusted companion and go-to resource for everyone supporting someone at the end of life—from the moment we first learn that someone is dying through the time of death and beyond.

Present Through The End offers insight and encouragement when we are unsure what to do or say and shows us how to be present even though we may feel utterly helpless, love when loss is just around the corner, and be fully alive to each moment as time runs out.

August 27th, 2019/ Shambhala Publications


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“Kirsten DeLeo has distilled timeless wisdom into a clear, accessible, and thoroughly helpful book. Rather than explain what to say or do, DeLeo shows us how to be with people who are approaching life’s end. Her guidance is simple, practical, and profound: Show up. Arrive with love—for yourself and the person you are visiting. Lean forward. Listen. Remember to breathe.”

—Ira Byock, M.D., author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible and Founder and Chief Medical Officer of the Institute for Human Caring

“Kirsten DeLeo invites us to be daring and sit with our own discomfort as we hold space and accompany the dying. Written from her experience of being with dying, DeLeo shares her wisdom with warmth and respect. A must-have guidebook that is thoughtful, accessible, and offers practical tools for caring companions. This is an excellent resource for those who prepare chaplains, ministers, and hospice volunteers for end-of-life care.”

—Cheryl A. Giles, Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling at Harvard Divinity School and co-author of The Arts of Contemplative Care

“Present Through The End is a must read for anyone who is caring for seriously ill patients or loved ones. Serious illness and the prospect of dying can trigger deep spiritual and existential suffering. Crying out in the presence of a sensitive listener can help the person eventually find peace, but even more importantly experience love and acceptance. DeLeo offers readers simple practical skills in being present to another and to ourselves. All clinicians, medical, nursing, and other health students need this guide to learn to integrate the art of presence in their clinical care.

—Christina M. Puchalski, M.D., OCDS, Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences Director, The George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality and Health and author of A Time for Listening and Caring


“Kirsten DeLeo's book Present Through The End: A Caring Companion's Guide to Accompanying the Dying teaches essential lessons in the art of presence for all who provide care to people at the end of life. This book is extraordinarily profound and yet simple at the same time as it leads the reader through practices to enhance listening, compassion, and mindfulness, and offers wise advice for negotiating the challenges of the dying process. With this inspirational book as a guide, care providers will transform death and dying for their patients and loved ones, but will also deepen their own ability to create a sacred and healing space within. It should be studied over and over again by everyone who has the opportunity to sit with the dying.”

—Karen Wyatt MD, Author of What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying

Most of us come upon death unexpectedly and unprepared. And as Kirsten DeLeo says “supporting a fellow human being to die well and to extend your kindness is both difficult and beautiful, ordinary and deeply spiritual”. So what to do? Kirsten’s book provides practical answers; compassionate, knowledgeable, heart-felt, do-able. This is a book everyone needs to read; this is a book that can transform the experience of death.

— Ian Gawler, Author of Blue Sky Mind

Present Through The End is a practical and meaningful book that is sure to be of immense benefit to anyone who will be caring for a friend, family member, or patient who is facing the end of their days.”

—Christine Longaker, Author of Facing Death and Finding Hope

“Through storytelling and rich personal experience, Kirsten invites us to a more compassionate attitude towards death and our own mind. She teaches us how to walk gracefully with those who are dying and helps us befriend our fears of not being able to “do enough”; she shares the method, beauty and power of simply being.”

— Angela Anderson, MD, Director of Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care at Hasbro Children's Hospital