Reviews

Praises for On Living

“The Harvard Divinity School-educated hospice chaplain Kerry Egan would appreciate that sentiment. After Egan’s 5-year-old says he believes her job is to “make people die so they can go to heaven,” she writes, “He seemed remarkably calm that his mother was a Grim Reaper in clogs.” When a friend quizzes Egan on how she spends her days as a counselor to the dying and their families, Egan explains that she sits at bedsides, tries to be a peaceful presence, listens, sometimes speaks, or sings, or holds a hand, all with as much courage and kindness as she can muster. “I imagine a giant bubble of love encompassing the patient and me,” Egan says. Her friend’s response: ‘You consider this work?’ ” – New York Times Book Review Full review

“In her new memoir, On Living, Egan describes her hospice work and the impact it has had on her own life. She says that despite the sadness and loss that are implicit in her work, there is also great joy.

‘I’m constantly reminded of the strength of the human soul,” she says. ‘I’m constantly reminded of … how much love people have for each other, and the love that’s all around us that we just don’t necessarily take a moment to see.'”  NPR, Fresh Air  Full review, interview & transcript

“This is one of the best books I have read all year: moving, inspiring, beautifully written. It offers a valuable look into the work of a hospice chaplain, but also, and perhaps more important, it will be of use to people who put off visiting a friend who’s in hospice because they feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. According to Kerry Egan, you don’t have to say much. The important thing is to listen and make room for dying people to talk, to say whatever it is they need to say.”  America, The National Catholic Review Full review

“Equal parts memoir and meditative text on the nature of life — and the many faces of faith — Egan’s book brought me to tears and then back again. If you have ever experienced loss, and even if you have not, 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, Top Reads Out in October  Full review

“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.” — Publisher’s Weekly (starred) Full review

“Powerful…in this quick read, Egan takes readers on an emotional journey through many unforgettable lives.” — Booklist

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

“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

“The dying rarely want to talk about God. That’s what hospice chaplain Kerry Egan found, and she explains that’s not because they don’t believe (some do, some don’t), but because they want their final thoughts and conversations to be about those that are still living: family, memories, small pleasures. Egan listened, and listened deeply, patiently, and with loving kindness to stories on just about everything that mostly centered on love of all kinds. She says she learns something from every patient she ministers to, but everyone, whether or not they’ve faced death of a loved one, can learn from Egan and her true charism, a spiritual gift for life and its aftermath.” – Aleteia (For Her), 9 thoughtful books on faith & humanity to warm your soul

Praise for Fumbling: A Journey of Love, Adventure, and Renewal on the Camino de Santiago:

“Thoughtful and refreshingly unpretentious . . . [Egan’s] insights continue to resonate for days after you’ve finished reading.”
The Washington Post