Katy Butler

Award-winning journalist Katy, a National Magazine Award finalist and winner of the “Science in Society” prize from the National Association of Science Writers, has written about neuroscience, medicine, Buddhism and human behavior for the New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, Mother Jones, The L.A. Times, MORE and The Washington Post.

Her first book, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: the Path to a Better Way of Death,” a memoir of shepherding her parents through their final declines, was named “One of the Ten Best Memoirs of 2013” and “A Big Book for Fall 2013” by Publishers Weekly, which gave it a starred review. Her second book, “The Lost Art of Dying” is scheduled to be released in 2018.

Her groundbreaking writing, blending memoir and investigative reporting, has been chosen for Best American Essays, Best American Science Writing, and Best Buddhist Writing, and been featured on regional National Public Radio stations. She was a staff reporter for twelve years for the San Francisco Chronicle where she covered health care, social issues, riots, and the human face of the AIDS epidemic.

In her years as a journalist, she interviewed Jeff Bridges, Richard Nixon and Mickey Hart (not all at the same time), lived on the streets as a homeless person, wrote tickets as a Meter Maid, and reported on Brokeback Marriages, Gyuto monks, and the neuroscience of teenage drinking.

A popular speaker at hospitals on the family’s perspective medical choices near the end of life, Katy gave a 2011 guest lecture to the first-year class at Harvard Medical School and a keynote speech at Ochsner Clinics’ 2010 inaugural Bioethics Grand Rounds in New Orleans. (To engage Katy Butler as a speaker, click here.)

Her interests include Slow Medicine, aging parents, bioethics, parental caregiving, spirituality, dementia, family caregiving, Alzheimer’s disease, end-of-life decisions, compassionate care, comfort care, palliative care, hospice, meditation, Zen practice, Buddhism, and how people transform themselves and their lives, especially at the boundary of the psychological and the spiritual. She lives in Mill Valley and has taught writing at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and Book Passage in Corte Madera, all in California.