The Book

A Practical Companion to the Film

Book coverWritten by Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D.
Foreword by Deepak Chopra, MD
Published by Sounds True
270 Pages. Paperback.

Table of Contents & First Chapter (PDF)


Our beliefs about what happens when we die define how we live today. And more and more of us are discovering a radical truth: when we release our fear of death, we open to an immensely richer life right here and now. But how do we incorporate this profound insight into our everyday lives?

In Death Makes Life Possible, Dr. Marilyn Schlitz presents a wealth of teachings and practical guidance on how to turn this taboo topic into a source of peace, hope, connection, and compassion.

Featuring contributions by eminent scientists and scholars, spiritual leaders and devout skeptics, health practitioners, and people from all walks of life, this far-reaching work offers a companion to the award-winning documentary, revealing the myriad ways that we grow and change by expanding our perspectives on the ultimate mystery facing each one of us.

Join Dr. Schlitz to learn more about:

• How facing the fear of death can motivate us to reprioritize our goals, expand self-worth, and help promote social harmony

• Dreaming and the transformation of death—the fascinating connections and new perspectives we can gain by paying attention to the world of our dreams

• Life, death, and the quantum soul—how post-materialist scientists are introducing new ways of understanding life as part of a nonlocal, interconnected universe that exists outside of linear space and time

• Shifting our collective discourse from “one of fear to one of awe and wonder” in order to heal ourselves and the world we share

“Understanding our relationships with the seen and unseen realms of everyday existence offers us new possibilities for living a big, juicy life filled with humility, purpose, meaning, and hope,” explains Marilyn Schlitz.

In Death Makes Life Possible, she offers a treasury of teachings with the power to transform every aspect of our lives.



Light of Consciousness Magazine book review: Click Here.

“Helpful as well as delightful. With brilliant intellect and warm heart, Dr. Schlitz beautifully makes the age-old case that confrontation and contemplation of death brings one more vibrantly to life! I heartily recommend it.” Robert “Tenzin” Thurman Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Buddhist Studies, Columbia University Founder, Menla Mountain Retreat

“In her book, Death Makes Life Possible, Marilyn Schlitz, PhD offers important insights and tools for transforming fear-based perspectives on death into awareness-based views that support our inner growth and enhance our overall experience of life.” Michael A. Singer Author of The Untethered Soul

“St. Augustine advised “Let death be thy teacher” because at the time he wasn’t able to refer his disciples to Marilyn Schlitz’ magnificent compilation of insight and wisdom on the topic. Had he, they would have not only been able to benefit from their own introspection but from the way life and death have been understood across many cultures and time periods, all framed within contemporary scientific understanding. In short, you have access, in Death Makes Life Possible, to a treasure that was not available back then.” David Feinstein, Ph.D. Co-author, Rituals for Living and Dying

“What a courageous move by Marilyn Schultz, to bring the topic of death out into the open to be contemplated, discussed, wrestled with and embraced as a natural part of life. Every healthcare leader, nurse and care provider should read this book and use it as a spring board for rethinking and refining how we in healthcare approach death, support it, educate about it, staff for it and experience it.” Kathy Douglas, RN, MPH-HA Director of the film NURSES If Florence Could See Us Now

“A new view of consciousness is arising within science, in which it is seen as nonlocal or infinite in space and time, therefore immortal and eternal. This ‘new’ perspective is of course ancient, and reminds us that the concept of the soul is not obsolete but is alive and well. This is a crucial development, because the fear of death and total annihilation has caused more suffering in human history than all the physical diseases combined. Thus Marilyn Schlitz has performed an immensely valuable service in Death Makes Life Possible by reminding us of our eternal, immortal Self. She reminds us that immortality is not something that kicks in when we die. We are already immortal, eternal, and soul-like. Celebrate!” Larry Dossey, MD Author: One Mind Barbara Montgomery Dossey, RN, PhD, HNC, FAAN Author: Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer

“This book will open our minds and hearts to the preciousness of life and help create a culture of possibility for a subject cloaked far too long in fear and avoidance. The purpose of this book is no less than to liberate you from the fear of death. Death Makes Life Possible will guide you on a journey to emotional healing, personal transformation, and spiritual awakening.” Hiroo and Masami Saionji Goi Peace Foundation

“This book courageously deals with the passage of death in both scientific and spiritual terms. Marilyn Schlitz is a superb teacher and scientist who has dedicated her life to compassionately enlightening people and stretching the bounds of limited scientific thinking to encompass the spiritual and intuitive. Highly recommended!” Judith Orloff, MD Author: Second Sight

“This book is an engaging affirmation of Albert Camus’ edict: ‘Come to terms with death. Thereafter anything is possible.’” Sheldon Solomon Professor of Psychology at Skidmore College

“Marilyn Schlitz has manifested this timely and important book which presents a profound historical, scientific, and philosophical expertise in a brilliant synthesis that is accessible to everyone. It is beautifully written as it guides the readers through a journey of opening up our worldviews and perspectives on how to turn our fear about death into a source of living richer lives full of hope and compassion.” Katia Petersen, PhD Executive Director of Education, Worldview Explorations Project, Institute of Noetic Sciences

“This is an important book. Schlitz shows us that the limits of human growth are not fixed and opens new windows on our capacities for self-transcendence. As both an anthropologist and consciousness researcher, she leads us through a panoramic vista of worldviews on death and the afterlife. Pulling together intimate personal experiences around dying with a careful review of the scientific evidence for post-mortem survival, Schlitz invites us to examine our deepest assumptions about human existence. She treats death awareness as a transformative practice that gives life meaning, both individually and for our shared human experience.” Michael Murphy Co-founder of the Esalen Institute

“The tears most of us will shed about death could create a wall against life—or a ladder to the heavens. Marilyn Schlitz’s brilliant book beautifully presents dozens of worldviews about death, drawing from various cultures, cosmologies, scientific research, and philosophers. As I closed the last page, I felt a metamorphosis, like the ‘rip in the fabric’ that is death really is only a shift in awareness, an awakening to expansion. The journey she takes us on is a pilgrimage.” Cyndi Dale Author: The Journey After Life and Illuminating the Afterlife

“We live in an exciting and edgy time when post-materialist scientists are incorporating some of the wisdom of ancient spiritual teachings while healthy spirituality eagerly interacts with science and together new and ancient questions are being explored freshly.  This book, while incorporating science, art, dreams, and deep ecumenism, focuses on death and questions of life and/or consciousness after death. The author offers a fine contribution to a lively discussion around a topic that all humans engage willingly or unwillingly, today or tomorrow.” Matthew Fox Author: One River, Many Wells; Original Blessing; and The Physics of Angels (with Rupert Sheldrake)

“In this ground-breaking work, anthropologist Marilyn Schlitz offers a much-needed guidebook for understanding the profound and transformative potentials of experiences such as near death, out of body, and reincarnation. While the current medical model has largely ignored these widespread phenomena, arguing that consciousness is nothing more than the bi-product of our brains, the evidence for an expanded view of human potential can no longer be neglected, as is also clearly shown in the post-materialist approach in science. This important and accessible book, in which she describes how our ideas about death define the way we live our life, is the wonderful and inspiring outcome of her personal quest. It is a highly recommended read for everyone who ever wondered about the mystery of life and what may lie beyond.” Pim van Lommel, MD Cardiologist and author of Consciousness Beyond Life

“You hear people, many people, telling story, all through the book. We see through others’ eyes, to see as one, and it touches us deeply, as death does. And writing it down is profound. Readers will experience a transformation of thought and feeling about death as life.” Tom Janisse, MD, MBA Editor in Chief and Publisher, The Permanente Journal

“There are many differences across cultures, traditions, and worldviews. And there is one thing we all share in common: death. In this powerful book, Dr. Schlitz offers an insightful guide to understanding our common humanity and how our deep appreciation of death connects us all, regardless of our specific faith tradition. The subject and her treatment of it are both fascinating and timeless, and show that Marilyn Schlitz is in the vanguard of thinkers in the interdisciplinary field that spans spirituality, psychology, and culture studies.” Maria Volkova Women’s Program Director, Women’s Task Force, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

“Far beyond a self-help handbook, this book and film are a thoroughly researched combination of compass, map, log, and vessel for a deeper exploration into a most important journey: your life, now, as well as your death, sooner or later, on a not-too-distant shore. But what might be on that unknown shore? Death Makes Life Possible presents objective scientific information and subjective spiritual experiences along with new knowledge about our conscious relationships with living and dying. Using extensive interviews with experts and witnesses, Marilyn Schlitz takes us on a cross-cultural exploration into essence—up to the edge, over, beyond, and back. This book is for anyone looking for ways of living and dying with soul.” J. Paul De Vierville Professor of History and the Humanities at Alamo Colleges Director, Alamo Plaza Spa at the historic Menger Hotel

“Marilyn Schiltz’s book Death Makes Life Possible takes the reader on a fascinating journey along a road rarely traveled—one that explores a multiplicity of opportunities for personal and societal transformation by pondering death and understanding the implications of death’s far-reaching web of fear. One of the key messages her book conveys is that death can teach us how to live a more conscious and enriched life when we can let go of that innate existential fear we all have. The sooner we start letting death teach us, the more fulfilling our lives can be. Compassionate volunteer caregivers who serve the dying learn this quickly, and their lives are forever transformed in ways they never thought possible. Compassion is the world’s elixir for the fear of death.” Greg Schneider Founder and President of Hospice Volunteer Association

“Death Makes Life Possible is indeed revolutionary. In many ways, it de-mystifies and normalizes the process of dying by inviting readers to deeply explore timeless questions such as ‘What is the thread of continuity in all of this me?’ It also highlights the costs of not talking about death. The price we pay for not talking about death includes financial costs associated with dramatic and aggressive treatments that may also erode the quality of life at the end of life. There are also significant costs related to fear and a lack of healing and closure that occur when we are unable to process the experiences of living and dying personally as well as with those we love. This is a must-read for health professionals as well as the public.” Mary Jo Kreitzer PhD, RN, FAAN Director, Center for Spirituality & Healing; Professor, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota

Marilyn Schlitz’s new book, Death Makes Life Possible, is a rare and wonderful exploration of that area of our culture that is still ‘the most repressed topic’: death. From a variety of perspectives—personal, spiritual, indigenous, traditional, post-materialist scientific—Dr. Schlitz opens this area to a fascinating adventure, including dialogues with dozens and dozens of teachers, scientists, spiritual leaders . . . all in an attempt to ‘de-repress’ this area and make it a part of the tapestry of life that it in fact is. Bold, brave, wise, riveting, her account superbly helps to overcome this ‘denial of death’ our culture is still saturated with.” Ken Wilber Author: The Integral Vision

“Far from depressing or morbid, this book offers profound serenity for the dying and celebratory comfort for the living. Dr. Schlitz’s multicultural work is not about dying. It is rather a path to embrace our noble end and to enjoy a life of gratitude for being here.” Dr. Mario Martinez Founder of Biocognitive Science and author of the bestselling book The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success

“Marilyn takes us on a journey opening the possibility, with documented living examples, of coming into an expanded and heretofore unrecognized way of living. This shift aligns us with our ability to live to our inherent potential and to be aware of both the individuality and simultaneously, the universality of each person. Paradoxically, as her title states, death is the doorway to this expansion.” Sue Steele Co-editor of Exploring Issues of Care, Dying, and the End of Life