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Biography & Autobiography Medical

Ordinary Deaths

Stories from Memory

by (author) Samuel LeBaron

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2022
Medical, Physician & Patient, Death, Grief, Bereavement
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it


In Ordinary Deaths, Dr. Samuel LeBaron reminds us of our need for human connection when experiencing death and loss. Based on more than thirty years of working with children and adults dying from cancer, LeBaron’s memoir contains stories of longing, confusion, love, and humility—often woven together. Sharing recollections from his childhood in rural Alberta and experiences from his career, LeBaron reveals a life of vital, intimate connection with others. His employment at a morgue during medical school, his early years as a clinical psychologist, and later careers in primary care and hospice in California, all translate into compassion and a deep understanding of death. Writing as he faces his own terminal illness—Stage IV lung cancer—LeBaron helps readers find acceptance and solace.

About the author

Dr. Samuel LeBaron is Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the Stanford University Medical Center. He has a doctorate in clinical psychology and was an early pioneer on managing pain and suffering. He currently lives both near San Francisco, CA, and in Victoria, BC.

Samuel LeBaron's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Writing [Ordinary Deaths] was a 15-year process made all the more poignant by the fact that LeBaron is, himself, dying. Two and a half years ago, LeBaron was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer…. LeBaron’s ability to hold space for the uncertainty, mystery and doubts we have about dying is anything but ordinary." Deb Cummings, Alumni News, October 10, 2022 [Full article at]

"Through LeBaron’s stories and the filter of his imagination, we witness his experiences as psychologist, physician and person. His clinical testimony makes us reflect: We may not want to look at death, but we can’t look away from it either. Our fascination with the death of others is often accompanied by the denial of our own death.... But the book is more than a memoir of how to face death: Ordinary Deaths is about how to face life." Tony Errichetti, The Intima, October 24, 2022 [Full review at]

Samuel LeBaron … has collected his lessons from a lifelong dance with death into a profound memoir…. LeBaron’s recollections brim with emotional insights, celebrate the virtue of honesty between caregiver and patient, and authentically depict the value of letting each person find their particular way to peace and acceptance…. Ordinary Deaths reminds us that each individual’s path to death is as different and unique as their own life has been. In our death-denying world, that is extraordinary indeed.” John Terauds, Quill & Quire, August 31, 2022 [Full review at]