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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kerry Egan Narrator: Kerry Egan Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2016 ISBN: 9781524702366
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Presents ‘the spiritual work of dying’ as a profound process with undeniable elements of beauty. A book to treasure.”

    People

  • Illuminating, unflinching and ultimately inspiring, [On Living] presents “the spiritual work of dying” as a profound process with undeniable elements of beauty. 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 of Eat Pray Love
  • “Egan... works as a hospice chaplain, supporting the spirits of those who are dying. In this book, she compassionately describes and distills what she has learned in their service. Boston Globe
  • Equal parts memoir and meditative text on the nature of life — and the many faces of faith —….this beautiful book will speak to parts of your heart that you didn't even realize were hurting. What's more: It might help heal them. Refinery29, Best New Books to Read This Month
  • “Egan’s evocative and eloquent book reminds us that we are defined by the stories we tell, and those stories often reveal how life can be “beautiful and crushing” at the same time. BookPage
  • This is one of the best books I have read all year: moving, inspiring, beautifully written…It is a book well worth exploring. America Magazine
  • In her sophomore outing, Egan masters the art of imparting critical life advice without coming off as preachy—a difficult feat…Egan’s empathetic tone is a comfort for both the healthy and the dying—whom, she opines, are not polar opposites…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. Publishers Weekly (starred)
  • 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
  • “A unique gem of a book... On Living is anything but mournful. In fact, it’s one of the most hopeful and insightful books I’ve read in years. Wise without being preachy, warm without being cloying, Kerry Egan offers a delightful, humorous, and ultimately joyful perspective on what it means to be alive.
    “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.
  • [Egan’s] anecdotes are often thought-provoking combinations of sublime humor and tragic pathos… A moving, heartfelt account of a hospice veteran. Kirkus Reviews
  • “Adds to the understanding of end-of-life issues in an important and accessible way…If there is one thing death teaches us, it’s how to live.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “This beautiful book will speak to parts of your heart that you didn’t even realize were hurting. What’s more: It might help heal them.”

    Refinery29

  • “A unique gem of a book…A delightful, humorous, and ultimately joyful perspective on what it means to be alive.”

    Chicago Review of Books

  • “Egan masters the art of imparting critical life advice without coming off as preachy—a difficult feat…Will inspire readers to make the most of every day.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Narrated clearly and with spirit by the author, a hospice chaplain, On Life introduces listeners to a cornucopia of people and shares their moving, uplifting, sometimes wacky, and occasionally sad life lessons. With a light touch, Egan blends her own story into those of her clients, which makes listening all the more personal and special. You’ll wish you’d read this book in your twenties. It would not have saved you from idiocy and heartbreak, but it would have helped to be reminded occasionally about what really matters. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”

    AudioFile

  • “[Egan’s] anecdotes are often thought-provoking combinations of sublime humor and tragic pathos…A moving, heartfelt account of a hospice veteran.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “These shared moments provide powerful insight for the reader, and for Egan, too, allowing her to overcome a dark shame from her own past."

    Booklist

  • “Egan’s evocative and eloquent book reminds us that we are defined by the stories we tell.”

    BookPage

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Refinery29 Pick of the Month
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About the Author
Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. Her hospice work has been featured on PBS and CNN, and her essays have appeared in Parents, American Baby, Reader’s Digest, and CNN.com, where they have been read more than two million times. She and her family live in Columbia, South Carolina.