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Opinion: How to find meaning when death is all around us

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Author Kerry Egan writes that the coronavirus pandemic has brought death into our daily lives so much so that we are living in a "hospice world." "This upending of life as we once knew it demands that we find a way through all the changes and losses," Egan writes.

(CNN)There's a process by which people make sense of the events of their lives -- both the things they chose to do, and the things that happened by chance, by accident, against their will, out of their control; experiences they knew were momentous while they were happening, and those that seemed insignificant at the time.

In hospice, this process is called "meaning making. " As a hospice chaplain for many years, it was my job to facilitate patients' and families' meaning-making work.

It's what we use to make meaning.

Some people have a bounty of ways to cope, to make meaning, to reconcile with losses.

A pandemic, and the hospice world it throws us into, is one in which we are searching to make meaning of rapidly changing events and expectations.

Religion isn't the only tool people have to make meaning, however.

Almost anything can be a spiritual tool if it helps someone make meaning of what seems meaningless.

Consciously spending time remembering and reflecting on those loving relationships is often its own immediate sense of meaning in a time of loss and change.

People use the various tools in their spiritual toolbox to do the actual work of meaning-making.

The changes are where the meaning-making happens.

It's true that there may be some losses that are so raw that meaning ultimately eludes us, no matter how many or how few tools we may have in our spiritual toolbox.

We will find meaning in this chaotic time, both as individuals and as a society, because despite the pain, loss and confusion, we have the ability to make sense of a hospice world.

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