Our Last Best Act

Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

Our Last Best Act

Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

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As we begin to contemplate death and to embark on practical planning for life's end, many of us long to leave a legacy beyond a transfer of money and property--one that ensures a sustainable earth for our loved ones, our communities, and generations to come. But where do we even begin?

With the sudden deaths of both of her parents, Mallory McDuff found herself in a similar position. Utterly unprepared both emotionally and practically, she began to research sustainable practices around death and dying, determined to honor their commitment to caring for the earth. For McDuff, an educator and environmentalist, what started as a highly personal endeavor expanded into a yearlong exploration and assessment of green burials, aquamation, green cemeteries, home funerals, and human composting.

In Our Last Best Act, McDuff bridges the gap between environmental action and religious faith by demonstrating that when the two are combined, they become a powerful force for the greater good. Full of practical information and support, this book equips readers to make decisions for their own end-of-life planning. In a world experiencing a climate crisis and a culture that avoids discussions about death and dying, this book opens the conversation about the choices we make--and how it's possible for our death to honor our values, create a sustainable legacy, and help to heal the earth.


"Our Last Best Act will change your death, and maybe even your life."

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"Freedom lives within these candid and composed pages. Our Last Best Act is a gentle and compassionate bow to the Earth. Let our decomposition be our resurrection."

Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion: Essays of Undoing

"Mallory McDuff delves into the difficult topic of death with grace and aplomb, showing how dying, and the choices we make in the aftermath of death, is a mutual and intimate experience that extends across generations."

Devi Lockwood, author of 1,001 Voices on Climate Change: Everyday Stories of Flood, Fire, Drought, and Displacement from around the World

"A worthwhile and decidedly pleasant book that aids a valuable purpose in our complicated times and truly speaks to one of the deepest responsibilities of being human: caring for and burying our dead."

Elizabeth Fournier, author of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial

"Mallory McDuff's commitment to explore in depth the options available to us when we die, and to complete her own end of life plans, in alignment with the earth, and the realities of climate change, is admirable in and of itself. Our Last Best Act exemplifies beautifully how one individual's intentions and courage can model new ways of being for others and help transform society for the greater good."

Lucinda Herring, green funeral director, home funeral guide, and author of Reimagining Death: Stories and Practical Wisdom for Home Funerals and Green Burials

"This book is both practical and political, earthy and spiritual. It will help you think about not only your death. but also your life, with fearlessness and clarity."

Lauren F. Winner, author of Wearing God

"More than a fascinating manual on how to plan for death, Our Last Best Act is a loving invitation to courageously face a great and sacred responsibility."

Janisse Ray, author of Wild Spectacle: Finding Wholeness in a World Beyond Humans

"Mallory's writing is soul-filling, offering truth desperately needed in this time of climate catastrophe. Our Last Best Act is a timely read for revisioning living and dying, beautifully grounded with love for self, family, community, and planet."

Dayna Regerro, documentary filmmaker and founder, Climate Listening Project

"Mallory McDuff tells the story of the journey we are all on with wit, intention, insight, and tantalizing curiosity. Her vibrant description of conservation burial captures the essence of our mission that includes family harmony, personal resonance, and environmental justice when contemplating one of our most potentially impactful life--and death--decisions."

Lee Webster, former President of the Green Burial Council International and the National Home Funeral Alliance, and co-founder of the Conservation Burial Alliance and the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance

"It has been a blessing to read Our Last Best Act while my attention has been on my own mother's death. I urgently want friends and family to read it as they plan for their peaceable end as a part of healing this earth."

Brian Sellers-Petersen, Agrarian Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and coordinator of Good News Gardens for The Episcopal Church

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506464466
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464473
  • Dimensions 5 x 8
  • Pages 211
  • Publication Date December 7, 2021