In an increasingly health-conscious society, it often seems that people, when faced with the dying process, view it as an oddity, an aberration, rather than a natural part of life. This book takes a fresh look at the way that Jesus walked, and gives practical suggestions on how to take that experience and make it our own in a positive, loving way. It gives hope that we are not alone in our final hours, that we are filled with Divine love as we journey together.
Growing out of the author’s experience as a hospice chaplain companioning the dying and their families, these meditations and prayers are based on the fears and hopes, and joys and sorrows of these individuals, and of the hospice staff who accompanied them.
Susan Mitchell has given us a gift, rare and intense, intimate and bold ... This book is a companion on the way, allowing us to go with God throughout our lives, all the way, through our dying and rising alone, and with others bound on the same journey of grace and life.
- Megan McKenna
At a time of the year when the world around is bursting with new growth, we should not forget that growth is only one aspect of lifes cycle, that decline and death inevitably follow. In the spirit as in nature, death is not an end, but a renewal, a making new, albeit in a different way, of life eternal. Susan Mitchell is an American writer and this little book is based on her own experiences working in hospices. Her aim is to benefit those living through death and those who care for them.
- The Irish Catholic
This book is designed by the author to be used both for personal reflection and as a liturgical service in settings such as church, hospital chapel or individual home
The authors reflections are on the Scriptural Stations of the Cross set forth by Pope John Paul II in 1991 as a way to be more faithful to the biblical narrative and to make them more appropriate for ecumenical purposes.
It is best to note that those stations are different from the traditional Stations of the Cross that we are familiar with in Ireland.
All the Stations provoke their own thoughts. The Fourth Station `Jesus is denied by Peter, caught my attention - the author points out how Peter mirrors our own insecurities and doubts. How often do we react in the same way?
When we are ill, we deny that much is going on, we cling to denial. Mitchell stresses the need to be gentle with those who cannot accept the reality of death and not try to press on them some sort of `ideal death.
Likewise, I found the Eighth Station thought provoking. Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene; here, the author points out how interdependent we are all on each other and so we do not carry the cross alone.
It is best to note that the author is American and once worked in a hospice in Maryland. It is this setting she has in mind when she outlines her liturgical service.
I feel this book offers the chaplain `nuggets of wisdom to be used when and where applicable.
- Jacinta Forde, The Carer, Sep 2010
The author lives in Maryland, USA, with her husband and children, and, certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, she is the chaplain of a hospice. From her experience of attitudes to dying - often seen as an aberration rather than a natural part of life - she uses the stations of the cross to show how we can accept that process and make it our own. For each of the fifteen stations, Mitchell provides a prayer, a reading and explanation and some words of comfort.
- Books Ireland, September 2009
Mitchell is that rather unusual being - a female Catholic chaplain. Her slim but fine book is equally singular in its inspiration and impact. Meditations on the traditional Stations of the Cross - the final stages of Jesus life, from Gethsemane to the Resurrection are commonplace in Catholic spirituality, but Mitchells originality comes in mapping those stations to the emotions and experiences of the dying and their caregivers. In a brilliant illustration of incarnational theology, Mitchell both "immerses" readers in the stations - and reminds them of Gods identification with human suffering. VERDICT: A suitably brief, grounded, and valuable book for all devout Catholics, especially the dying and those who surround them.
- Graham Christian, Library Journal
The prayer book I would like to introduce to you is written by wife, mother, and hospice chaplain ` Susan Mitchell and is called Through the Valley , The Way of the Cross for the End of Life. Unlike the others it is presented without illustrations. It can be used for private prayer or for a community service. It begins in the hospice garden and, after following a planned route through the hospice, ends in the garden. The invocation and Bible reading at each station follows the traditional format. It is the reflection on each station that is unique. It is geared primarily to the dying person or to those who are caring for the person or just sitting helplessly, wearily by as their loved ones life ebbs away peacefully or in agony. The emphasis is on Gods presence; stop trying to do things; do not seek to deny what is taking place; accept the anger that may arise in us; accept the guilt feelings that we could have, avoided this outcome if we had done differently; accept forgiveness as the good thief did; think of those we are leaving behind as Jesus did and make provision for them; face my death or the death of the loved one in contemplating the death of Jesus; ", enter the resurrection of Jesus as a present cause of rejoicing and a foretaste of the joy that awaits us. The book is not confined to use in a hospice or at the time of dying. It is of value to anyone who wishes to draw closer to Jesus in his suffering and in this way connect with God as a participant in the kind of pain, fear and anxiety that we ourselves experience.
- From my bookshelf, Tom Kiggins, Africa, June 2010