My aim this evening is to reflect on working in an adult hospice and a children’s hospice. I will begin by thinking about the language of spiritual care and I will attempt to wrestle with the age old question of where we might find God in times of great suffering. I will share some poetry, tell some stories and reflect on them in the light of what it means to know that we are mortal. To think about what might be said about God and faith in the care of terminally ill patients and to explore whether the same ideas resonate in both adult and children’s settings. Finally, I want to suggest that it is our humanity that we have to offer to one another and that surprising things happen when we can dare to let our defences down.
Let me begin with a poem by the American poet Mary Oliver called “When death comes”:

like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes
all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore…

The full text of Andrew Edmead’s lecture will be available in 2018 in our publication: Being Human.

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