Breathing Light: Accompanying Loss and Grief with Love and Gratitude

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By Julie Hliboki, photography by David Foster. Transilient Publishing, 2014. 86 pages. $24/paperback.

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As a certified hospice chaplain in Atlanta, Ga., Julie Hliboki offers her ideas about compassionate care for the distressed and the dying. Rooted in faith in that of God within herself and her clients, she brings healing and freedom from fear and pain to people in extremis. In her work, Hliboki makes rounds in hospitals and nursing homes, easing the path to a graceful death by clearing herself of preoccupation and ego and holding the client in the focused light of love.

This book seeks through words and images to inspire a patient to accept the grace such caregivers can offer and to inspire practitioners to have faith in their own capacity to bring divine light to people in need. Breathing Light weaves together stories from hospice experience, directives for prayer and practice, and inspirational poems from many religious traditions. With real-life vignettes, Hliboki describes how to allow space and permission for anxiety and grieving and how caregivers can guide a patient to a space of serenity and gratitude. It is richly illustrated with award-winning nature photographs by David Foster, each one chosen precisely to evoke with composition and color the emotions and intuitions Hliboki describes. Reading the words, following the “breathing lessons,” and basking in the photographs could become a daily practice on its own for anyone seeking serenity.

David Foster is also a longtime Quaker from Ohio. His images have appeared in more than 50 exhibitions around the world and most recently won the 2014 Turczyn Award. Hliboki and Foster are both recorded ministers at Atlanta (Ga.) Meeting.

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