My guest this week is Dr. John Eric Baugher, author of Contemplative Caregiving: Finding Healing, Compassion, and Spiritual Growth Through End-of-Life Care. We often think of caregiving as an act of self-sacrifice, but John makes it clear that caring for others is a privilege, and can be one of the most meaningful things we ever do.
In this episode we talk about how he started working in hospice care on the front lines of the AIDS crisis in New Orleans in the early nineties. This is more than a conversation about how we die—it’s really about who we want to be and how we can connect with others as we live each moment of our lives.
Topics John and I explored together include:
- How experiences of suffering draw us toward meaning
- The recent development of hospice care
- A way of being that heals
- Care of the dying as a meeting of mutual vulnerabilities
- Caregiving as a spiritual practice and path of self-illumination
- Awareness of death as a means to see more deeply into everyday things
- How little “doing” is required to be with the dying
- The reciprocity in end-of-life caregiving
- Our indebtedness to those who open to receive our love
- The preparation needed for contemplative caregiving
- The seamlessness between dying and living in hospice care
- Finding a contemplative space to hear the stirrings of our heart
John’s excellent book is available on Amazon and elsewhere (affiliate link): Contemplative Caregiving
John Eric Baugher, PhD, is a certified nursing assistant, bereavement group facilitator, hospice caregiver, and chaplain, with a doctorate in sociology.
He turned to end-of-life caregiving as a young man following the loss of his mother to murder. Over the past 25 years he’s provided emotional, spiritual, and bereavement support to countless dying persons and their family members.
John has published research studies and essays on stress and healthy coping, organizational change, transformational learning, caregiver support, and hospice care. His writing and teaching weave together insights from the depths of his own grief with those of individuals from diverse backgrounds and walks of life.
John has been a transformative educator for more than two decades, and has given numerous invited talks and workshops at universities, religious institutions, and healthcare organizations in the US, Mexico, Germany, and Austria.
His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His innovative approach integrates the principles and practices of contemplative caregiving in the contexts of healthcare, education, and leadership.
John seeks to lift up the dignity of all, affirming that we each have the spiritual capacity to face the suffering of this life with courage and compassion, and to be transformed in the process.