Contemplative Caregiving

by John Eric Baugher

I knew that night that I would one day go to the prison and meet with James Prince, the man who murdered my mother. I knew the time would come when I would confront both the rage inside me and the humanity of this man who had so brutalized and disfigured my mother that a viewing of her body was not possible. But it would take years before I would come to this path.

In time, I became connected with Lauren Abramson, the founder and director of the Community Conferencing Center in Baltimore, Maryland, an organization that supports healing through restorative practices that bring together the perpetrators and victims of crimes. Lauren contacted James on my behalf to request a meeting at the prison between us. James agreed to meet with me, although he told Lauren that he didn’t kill my mother, just as he had denied doing so at his sentencing twenty-three years earlier. But my intention in wanting to meet with James was not to gain a confession—I wasn’t motivated by such a heavy-handed agenda. Instead, as I explained to Lauren, my intention was to discover what I might learn by moving closer to this man who had caused me so much pain. I wanted to find out whether I could see him as a human being and to explore the possibility that if I could open my heart to him, there might be fewer barriers to me doing so with others who had not caused me so much pain.


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From Contemplative Caregiving: Finding Healing, Compassion, and Spiritual Growth through End-of-Life Care © 2019 by John Eric Baugher. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO, John Eric Baugher, PhD has been an end-of-life caregiver for more than two decades. He consults and offers workshops internationally on spiritual care, grief and transformation, and contemplative learning. He is a certified nursing assistant (CNA), certified bereavement group facilitator, certified end-of-life caregiver, and chaplain. To learn more, visit his website at

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