What people talk about before they die

The meaning of life is discovered through actions of love, Kerry Egan says.

Story highlights

  • Hospice chaplain Kerry Egan shares what she has learned
  • 'We don't learn the meaning of our lives by discussing it. ... It's discovered through these actions of love'

Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain and the author of "On Living," and "Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago."

As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work. I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did.

"I talk to the patients," I told him.
"You talk to patients? And tell me, what do people who are sick and dying talk to the student chaplain about?" he asked.
    I had never considered the question before. "Well," I responded slowly, "Mostly we talk about their families."
    "Do you talk about God?
    "Umm, not usually."