Blending personal insights from twenty-five years of hospice volunteering with contemplative social science research, this thoughtful and engaging book offers practical lessons about the transformative possibilities of compassionate end-of-life caregiving. After author John Baugher's mother was murdered in 1987, he felt that he was fated to join her killer in life imprisonment-not behind bars, but behind psychological walls of unresolved grief and anger. Baugher turned to hospice volunteering as a way to channel his experience, marking the beginning of a twenty-five year journey of exploration-in both public hospices and prison hospice programs-and the possibility of discovering compassion and even humor in the face of death. In this beautifully written book, Baugher weaves together insights from his experience with those gleaned from interviews with dozens of hospice volunteers from widely varying backgrounds. "Caring for others at the end of life has shown me that affirming the humanity of others is crucial to my own joy and sense of vibrancy," writes Baugher. Contemplative caregiving can be a spiritual practice in its own right-a practice that parallels the benefits of mindfulness while extending them beyond the personal level to inspire compassionate shifts in families, hospitals, and broader spheres of society.
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