What does a hospice chaplain really do? In her touching and inspiring new book, On Living, Kerry Egan, shares incredible stories of people she has listened to and comforted as they confronted their own deaths. Trust me, this is not a downer–just the opposite. Egan says of her own job: “Hospice chaplains are sort of the opposite of storytellers. We’re storyholders. We listen to the stories that people believe have shaped their lives. We listen to the meaning they make of those stories.”
Like the people in the book, we will all have regrets or go through things that “destroy our inner compass.” Secrets we believe are too shameful to share. Anger at a parent. Not appreciating our bodies while they’re still healthy. Worrying instead of dancing more. Egan shows how the act of merely being present and silent is a form of healing. To make a sacred space and to offer a loving presence through listening allows the people in the book to share their stories and to make sense of or to find meaning in their lives. “The Chaplain doesn’t do the work,” Egan says, The patient does….She (the Chaplain) might ask questions you would never have considered or she can reframe the story, and can offer a different interpretation to consider, accept, or reject. She can remind you of the larger story of your life….The power isn’t just for those who are dying. It’s for anyone who wants to listen.”
And that’s what this book can do for you. Remind you of the larger story of YOUR life, to dance more while you still can!