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A hospice chaplain's lessons on the meaning of life, from those who are leaving it
As a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan didn't offer sermons or prayers, unless they were requested; in fact, she found, the dying rarely want to talk about God, at least not overtly. Instead, she discovered she'd been granted an invaluable chance to witness first-hand what she calls the "spiritual work of dying" - the work of finding or making meaning of one's life, the experiences it contained and the people who have touched it. Instead of talking, she mainly listened: to stories of hope and regret, shame and pride, mystery and revelation, and secrets held too long. Most of all, though, she listened as her patients talked about love.
This isn't a book about dying - it's a book about living. Each of Egan's patients taught her something; in this moving and beautiful book, she imparts their poignant and profound lessons.
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When I forget the importance of kindness, when I forget to listen, when I no longer recognize the comfort of a quiet presence, when no words will help, when I lose sight of what is most important, I will want On Living within arm's reach, always. I love this book (Abigail Thomas, author of 'A Three Dog Life' and 'What Comes Next and How to Like It')
Thoughtful and refreshingly unpretentious . . . [Egan's] insights continue to resonate for days after you've finished reading (Washington Post on 'Fumbling')
Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of a memoir, Fumbling: A Journey of Love, Adventure and Renewal on the Camino de Santiago and has published essays in many national print and online publications, including Parents, American Baby, Reader's Digest, and CNN.com. She and her family live in Columbia, South Carolina.
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