009: Contemplating Life through Grief with John Eric Baugher, PhD

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In this episode, we’re contemplating how caring is what makes us fundamentally human and how we’re connected by suffering.

Rebecca is joined by John Eric Baugher, a scholar, writer and teacher exploring the transformative possibilities of contemplative end of life care. His book, Contemplative Caregiving offers encouragement to show up in the fullness of life. This is an in-person (one microphone) interview. 

In this episode ...

  • John asks us to contemplate questions like “would you be without your grief?” and Rebecca shares her own contemplations. 

  • In regards to measuring quality of life, we discuss the power of mining life’s suffering, because this is often where contentment, joy, meaning comes from.

  • End-of-life care introduces us to the natural cycle of life.

  • There is no giving without receiving. We explore “reciprocity of care” through illustrative stories regarding end of life care. This is also a conversation around relational equality, dignity and mutual vulnerability. 

  • The word Hospice, implies both guest and host. The founders of the hospice movement, meant it to be a transformational space. Perhaps this is what we’re missing in today’s culture. Don’t we need to be thinking more about the mutual reciprocity of relationships in our life?

  • Reverence: a sense of awe for what is. 

  • The discernment and attunement required in the process of being with and caring for another. 

  • ““This is where he ended, and I needed to begin.”  Tom, in an interview with John. John and Rebecca discuss the profundity of Tom’s insight into his very first patient he was caring for. The caregiving became a path of self-illumination.

  • Symbolic acts that get coded as “care”. Care can sometimes be driven by our incapacity or inability or unwillingness to recognize that a loved one is exiting soon. 

  • What’s an appropriate response today might not be an appropriate response tomorrow. 

  • Hospice caregiving in prison: when caregivers, who are also prisoners, apprehend their own humanity. 

  • Caregiving is a privilege that can transform a life. 

  • John discusses the power that anger can have, and the sickness that can come with it when we try to bypass the fullness of our grief, which can include anger.

  • Radical compassion and having more healthy encounters.

  • Loving our imperfect care, rejuvenation and depletion, and seeing our own mind and our own heart as we’re caring.

  • Hearing “That’s her baseline” as a euphemism, and the ensuing fear and feeling of powerless. Reflecting on changing the language.

  • To care is what makes us fundamentally human. We are connected by suffering.

Listen to the entire episode to discover your own valuable insights and understanding on this topic and share it with loved ones!


Find out more about John’s work at https://johnericbaugher.com/

John’s Book: Contemplative Caregiving: Finding Healing, Compassion, and Spiritual Growth through End-of-Life Care

While these discussions will guide you into the Connectfulness Practice, the podcast is not meant to be a substitute for counseling from a licensed provider. Reach out. Initiate the ripple. Learn more about my connectfulness counseling practice and our collective for therapists in private practice here.

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