“Hospice Chaplains are so under utilized in the Hospice Model of care.”
Kerry Egan, Author & Hospice Chaplain
Episode 35: Kerry Egan, Hospice Chaplain & Author – “Living On”
As a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan didn’t offer sermons or prayers unless they were requested. In fact, in her work she found that the dying rarely wanted to talk about God, at least not openly.
She discovered that she’d been granted an invaluable chance to witness firsthand what she calls the “spiritual work of dying.” The work of finding meaning of one’s life, making sense of the experiences it’s contained and the people who have touched it including the betrayals, wounds, unfinished business, and unrealized dreams.
Instead of talking, Kerry 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—love for their children and partners and friends; love they didn’t know how to offer; love they gave unconditionally; love they sometimes belatedly learned to grant themselves.
On Living isn’t about dying—it’s a book about living. And Kerry isn’t just passively bearing witness to these stories. An emergency procedure during the birth of her first child left her physically whole but emotionally and spiritually adrift. Her work as a hospice chaplain healed her from a brokenness she came to see we all share.
Each of her patients taught her something—how to find courage in the face of fear or the strength to make amends; how to be profoundly compassionate and fiercely empathetic; how to see the world in grays instead of black and white. In this poignant, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along her patients’ precious and necessary gifts.