Human beings do not want to die; we spend infinite resources to sustain life, without regard to cost or quality. And yet we do die. Facing terminal illness and unprepared for death, we can feel abandoned by both secular and faith based institutions, whose focus on restoration can fall short of the wisdom and grace needed to embrace a holy death as a part of life.
Ellen Richardson hopes to change things by offering stories from her work in hospice and palliative care, and the rich resources of the church's Scripture and tradition, to create safe space for exploring questions we carry about dying. Her book is intended for individual readers, and to be used in group, workshop, or retreat settings within the church, so that practices of prayer and healing can become once more a source of comfort and strength, not simply tools of defiance against illness and weakness. No amount of faith will buy immortality for earthly bodies, but death need not be a time of failure and isolation. Holy Dying helps us lay claim to our scriptural stories as hard teachers of our mortal heritage.
Ellen Richardson, a physician who practiced Family Medicine in small towns for 14 years and worked for 10 years in hospice and palliative care, was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2008, and served bi-vocationally in congregations of varying sizes in Georgia and Virginia until her retirement from medicine. Since June 2014, she has served as a full time parish priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. She is a graduate of Episcopal Divinity School and lives in Tifton, Georgia.