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ON LIVING by Kerry  Egan

Publisher Riverhead Books, October 25, 2016

As a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan never offered sermons or prayers, unless they were requested; in fact, she found, the dying rarely want to talk about God, at least not overtly. Rather than talk, she listened to their stories—stories of hope and regret, shame and pride, loyalty and betrayal and secrets held too long. Most of all, she listened as her patients talked about love—love for their children and partners and friends; love they didn’t know how to offer or wished they’d received; love they gave unconditionally; love they, sometimes belatedly, learned to grant themselves. With each story, she was graced with the chance to witness firsthand what she calls the “spiritual work of dying”—the work of finding or making meaning of one’s life.
On Living isn’t a book about dying. It’s a book about living, about making whole the brokenness we all share, by finding courage in the face of fear or the strength to make amends—by becoming profoundly compassionate and fiercely empathetic; by learning to see the world in shades of gray instead of black and white. In this profound, moving, and beautiful book, Egan passes along all these precious and necessary gifts.

“I know from experience what a blessing hospice can be for patients and their families. Kerry Egan’s insightful book is a blessing as well. A born storyteller, she allows us a glimpse into a little-known world, where ordinary people face death with wit, humor, sadness, and regret. Egan reveals that the job of a chaplain is mostly to listen to them as they work out how to set things right with those they love, and find meaning in their lives.”
-- Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk, Amazing Grace, and Acedia and Me

“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

“It's a brave thing to walk into the rooms of the dying with no props--to sit down, open your heart and your mind, and be present to whatever comes up. But that's exactly what chaplain Kerry Egan does, and in On Living, she reveals some of what she has learned. What does come up? Anger, love, regret, secrets, stories, and insights, well-told and well-felt."
– Victoria Sweet, author of God’s Hotel

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