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The Wake Up To Dying Project

An audio story library - using the power of stories to explore death, dying and life.

Here you will find over 100 short audio stories about living, caregiving, dying, grieving and powerful human moments. Stories that have inspired people to say what needs to be said, to forgive, to live more fully, and in many cases, to complete an advance directive.

These stories were collected by the Wake Up to Dying Project between 2012-2017 and have been gifted to Vermont Ethics Network so that they can continue to be explored and shared.

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Touch the Lips

A grandmother’s way of saying goodbye to her granddaughter. No words required.

We’re in the Same Boat

A man talks about what it felt like to receive a life-threatening diagnosis, and one thing it made him realize…

Buckets of Lipstick

His mother has dementia and lives in an residential care facility…this is a story about love and lipstick, flamboyance, and fitting in with the Joneses. Or not…

No More Lasagna

A young woman is picking out food to take to a friend who just lost her brother. She recommends they avoid lasagna…

Seven Months Later

A mother talks about the surprising arc of grief after the loss of her baby.

Humor Detail

A woman who receives a life threatening diagnosis puts a care team together comprised of friends, and one important task is….humor.

Dying Gracefully

A man describes his best friend’s graceful approach to death, employing Act 39 (legislation in Vermont that allows eligible Vermonters with terminal diseases the option to be prescribed medication that will hasten the end of their life).

Backyard Funeral

A rabbi describes an intimate backyard burial service among family.


This is a story about the nature of receiving visitors as a dying person. According to Bill, some of his visitors are overly cheery, some too emotional, but in the end, all were appreciated.

He Was Still There

A woman describes the moment of her partner’s death, then the palpable sense that ‘he was still there’ in the house, in the hours after his death.

Denial River

After surviving breast cancer treatment, a woman receives news that her heart is failing and she could die at any time. This is a story about how she lives with this daily uncertainty.

Grandmother’s Hand

A man tells the story of a hand held at the time of death.