Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Local Author and Hospice Chaplain publishes Heart Like A Bonfire

Dec 07, 2023 10:01AM ● By Jordan Peschek

John Hughes, hospice chaplain and local author, has written and published a novel about his 13 years as a hospice chaplain in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is now for sale on Amazon.

Heart Like A Bonfire is a confluence of poignant stories from within a hospice. It is inspired by Hughes' 13 years as a bereavement specialist and spiritual care provider. The author explores grief, dying and death, and bereavement from multiple perspectives with a blend of loving spirituality and gritty honesty.

Many stories are shared, including one about a patient named Ezra who comes very near death. A nurse prescribes him fentanyl as a painkiller, and Ezra’s son Bob objects. Bob calls for an ambulance, and Ezra perishes in the back. Another patient, Beth, approaches death with fears of hell, as she is filled with Roman Catholic guilt over her sexuality. Benjamin is a young patient who is married to devoted Mabel, pancake waitress, and he has a rebellious, off-color outlook on life as he proceeds through the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross five stages of dying.

In alternating, quirky and original voices, Chaplain Richard and Nursing Aide Mona tell the story of their involvement with these experiences. They explore their own feelings about the work they are doing and about mortality. They describe their evolving perspectives on these characters and five others. The others are bring in color and context to the work of hospice.

The patients and their families have their own voice as well, as they share what it is like for them to be dying or having a loved one dying. This novel evokes the feelings of deep-seated emotions in the reader as they grapple with the deaths they see emerging on the page.

A sense of peace is also felt over the awareness that we are all facing this perennial challenge together. Insights about the nature of the death process, and the nature of the American hospice industry, are shared.

Readers can purchase Heart Like A Bonfire on Amazon. Author John Hughes can be reached at 414-544-3782 or email [email protected].