Join Us In This Crowd Funding Effort

The Amateur’s Guide is happy to be a cosponsor for a new crowd funding project that deals with death and bereavement.


Longfellow and the Deep Hidden Woods


Every veterinarian, animal clinic, and rescue service should have this book for their clients when a beloved pet dies. Help us give this gift of comfort.


Who’s going to tell the kids?

Children often have difficulty processing the death of a family member or a beloved pet. All too often children are excluded from any meaningful discussion about this important life transition. This oversight leaves kids guessing about the sudden disappearance of the loved one or pet and no way to process their grief. It can also have a devastating effect on a child’s development. So much of the confusion, bewilderment, and unresolved grief from childhood is often carried into adulthood.

We think there’s a better way.01

A good place to begin is with the stories we read with and to our children. Stories become the basis of a child’s understanding of the world. They contribute to their language development as well as their critical thinking, and coping skills. Death and grief are particularly thorny subjects to communicate to children, not because children are incapable of grasping the message, but because we, the adult storytellers, are often unprepared for, or even uncomfortable with, the topics ourselves

Let’s face it; there are precious few children’s books available that tackle the important topics of death and bereavement.

This is where Longfellow And The Deep Hidden Woods comes in.

Longfellow and the Deep Hidden Woods

Dr. Richard Wagner is one of America’s leading experts in the field of death, dying and bereavement. And he is the author of Longfellow And The Deep Hidden Woods.


Longfellow, the bravest and most noble wiener dog in the world, is a puppy at the beginning of the story. He is still learning how to be a good friend to his human companions — old Henry and Henry’s nurse Miss O’weeza Tuffy. By the end of the story, Longfellow has grown old himself, but he is still ready for one final adventure. What happens in between throws a tender light on the difficult truths of loss and longing as well as on our greatest hopes.

Besides the thoughtfully crafted and heartwarming story there is page after page of beautiful and charming illustrations provided by the award-winning Spanish artist, David Cantero.

We believe that Longfellow And The Deep Hidden Woods is the ideal tool for parents and grandparents to help the little ones consider the end of life before that reality comes crashing into their lives.

Veterinarians, animal clinics, and rescue services all need this book!

Veterinarians, and all the wonderfully dedicated people who assist them, are on the frontline in service to animals. Attending sick, elderly, and dying animals is part of the job description of these valiant caregivers.

Now here is a way for you to help these heroes of animal care.

We believe that Longfellow And The Deep Hidden Woods will aid these professionals in the difficult task of preparing their clients, children and adults alike, for the death of their beloved pet.


The Longfellow book will also help the grieving human companions come to grips with the anguish they feel.

Imagine the impact your gift of the Longfellow book will have on all the people who dedicate their lives to the service of animals. And how your gift will ease their burden as they carry the news of an impending or actual death.

Imagine the impact your gift of the Longfellow book will have on someone, or some family, who is left alone to process the grief involved with the death of a beloved pet.

Imagine how your gift of the Longfellow book will help open a discussion about all the seasons of life for those who need it most. And what a bonding experience this will be for both children and adults.

This delightful, uplifting, and life-affirming story will change the lives of so many people, and that will happen because of your generosity. Please join us in getting this wonderful book in the hands of those who deal directly with sick and elder animals and grieving humans.

Thank You!

Thank you in advance for your help. Longfellow thanks you, too!


Click HERE to join the effort!


**We are delighted to announce that all books sent directly to our sponsors will be signed by the author and by Longfellow. The beautiful 24″ X 24″ limited run, full-color posters featuring some of the charming illustrations from the Longfellow book, offered as our gift to sponsors at $500, $1000 and $5000 levels, will also be signed by the author. They are suitable for framing.

The Life Matters Media Connection

I am delighted to announce that I will be contributing a monthly column on the prestigious Life Matters Media website.



Life Matters



This column will be titled:  Managing Our Mortality.  Here’s what I have to say about it:


We are notorious for ignoring and denying death; we keep death out of sight and out of mind, postponing any serious considerations until death comes knocking at our door. This inevitably leaves us unprepared and frightened as we face our own mortality. We seldom get around to asking ourselves; “Will my death be good? Will it be wise? Will it matter?”

Death is not only a universal fact of life, part of the round of nature; but it’s also a necessary part of what it means to be human. Everything that we value about life and living—its novelties, challenges, opportunities for development—would be impossible without death as the defining boundary of our lives. So planning for the inevitable, especially when death is not imminent, is important work for us all.

To find the inaugural column, titled — A Student Of Death, look HERE!

Book Review — The Amateur’s Guide to Death and Dying: Enhancing the End of Life

I am delighted to share with you a very thoughtful and reflective review of my book. This review appears in The Natural Transitions Magazine, which is available in both hard copy and E-version. To get your copy visit HERE!



By Lee Webster

What does it mean to die a good death? Sure, we all have a fair idea of the self-explanatory concept, but have we really thought out the nuts and bolts of it? Have we taken the time or made the effort in a clear, compassionate, and all-encompassing way to envision our own end or the end of a loved one?

The Amateur’s Guide to Death and Dying: Enhancing the End of Life is not a book for a good night’s read, cozying up to the fire. In fact, it’s not exactly a book at all in the conventional sense. Wagner begins by introducing the reader to ten characters who make up an imaginary death and dying support group. Each has his or her own baggage, concerns, fears, and life experiences.AGDD_front cover

In ten weeks—ten chapters—each expresses valuable and, at times, uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the group, while exploring the issues of death and dying. Wagner then invites the reader to participate in the virtual group, to write in an included workbook, and do check-ins, exercises, and homework that have been designed to stimulate the reader’s personal thoughts and observations while sharing in the struggles and epiphanies expressed by characters in the book.

For many of us, the prospect of facing our own mortality and that of those we love within a real group setting would be excruciating. The Amateur’s Guide makes a fictitious group event into a supported solitary pursuit, allowing the reader to wade through difficult emotional waters at his or her own pace, and to linger with thoughts and insights while simultaneously “observing” the reactions of other participants in the group—all on paper. It’s a unique approach to self-exploration within community.

“All of this,” Wagner writes, “is designed to help make the end of life less of an intimidating process and more of a rich, poignant transition.”

Written in an engaging, deeply human style, the characters come to life through both burdens and revelations. They remind us of the vastly different roles our families play in forming our outlook and capacity for internalizing and coping with our own deaths. They remind us that our historical and cultural context has formed our attitudes towards death and that a renegotiation is required if we are not comfortable with the prevailing messages.

They remind us that as much as we say we live in a death-defying culture, we spend an awful lot of time flirting with death. And that love becomes the intrinsic focus of the death experience—whether love is or was present becomes paramount in defining our relationship to death, both personally and universally.

There is no limit to the reminders provided in this book that will potentially bring readers into sharper consciousness regarding mortality and, more importantly, help integrate a deeper understanding of death into our waking lives through faithful participation in this valuable process.

The many practical (telling someone where to find the keys) and spiritual (are you in a right relationship with yourself, friends, family, God?) topics are presented to help center the reader on what is important in the moment to mindfully prepare for death. The exercises Wagner offers are worth the time and effort. After all, what other resource is likely to provide an opportunity to write your own obituary?


Lee Webster writes from her home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She is a frequent public speaker on the benefits of home funerals and green burial, a freelance writer, conservationist, gardener, quilt maker, and hospice volunteer.

Contact Lee at

Be sure to visit our colleagues at Natural Transitions and support their work.