On Living by Kerry Egan

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“On Living” adds to the understanding of end-of-life issues in an important and accessible way, because Egan’s patients and caregivers could be you and me, and no doubt will be sooner than we expect. How are we to live in the meantime?
-NY Times

Synopsis

"Illuminating, unflinching and ultimately inspiring... A book to treasure.” –People Magazine

"A poetic and philosophical and brave and uplifting meditation on how important it is to make peace and meaning of our lives while we still have them.” --Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author ofEat Pray Love

A hospice chaplain passes on wisdom on giving meaning to life, from those taking leave of 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 firsthand what she calls the “spiritual work of dying”—the work of finding or making meaning of one’s life, the experiences it’s contained and the people who have touched it, the betrayals, wounds, unfinished business, and unrealized dreams. 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—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.

This isn’t a book about dying—it’s a book about living. And Egan 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 all their precious and necessary gifts.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Kerry Egan

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Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain ordained by Harvard Divinity School. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and the author of a memoir, Fumbling: A Journey of Love, Adventure and Renewal on the Camino de Santiago, she has published in many national print and online publications, including Parents, American Baby, Reader’s Digest, and CNN.com, where her essays have been read over a million times. She and her family live in Columbia, SC.
Author Residence: Columbia, SC
 
Published October 25, 2016 by Riverhead Books. 219 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Religion & Spirituality, Self Help, Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for On Living
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Aug 03 2016

She is not afraid to point out times where she made mistakes, even downright failures, in the course of her work. However, the nature of her work means “living in the gray,” where right and wrong answers are often hard to identify.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Sep 25 2016

Egan also counsels that things are never as they appear, that there are layers to every decision, good and bad. As the title suggests, this is not just a book about dying. It’s one that will inspire readers to make the most of every day.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Heather Lende on Nov 25 2016

“On Living” adds to the understanding of end-of-life issues in an important and accessible way, because Egan’s patients and caregivers could be you and me, and no doubt will be sooner than we expect. How are we to live in the meantime?

Read Full Review of On Living | See more reviews from NY Times

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