Veteran Ordained Deacon and Community Hospice Chaplain Gerald Ladouceur Authors Book on Hope and Dying
Chaplain Gerald Ladouceur of The Community Hospice has authored a book, “Hope Lives On: Beyond the Veil of Death,” which explores some of those very questions. The book is a compilation of numerous mystical, spiritual and unexplained accounts as conveyed by dying patients and their families. Ladouceur has been documenting the stories through more than two decades of working with patients who are near the end of life.
“Dying people will tell clergy things that they would never tell their families, said Chaplain Ladouceur. “They are reluctant to tell others because they don’t want people to judge them or think they are losing their minds, but they will tell a clergy person who must keep their confidences. Almost all have confided in me that they experienced something supernatural, including seeing angels or deceased family members.”
Ladouceur says after a while, he began writing down the stories, and with permission, began sharing the stories with other patients and families to give them comfort.
In 2015, Ladouceur met a publisher and sent him three of his stories. He was contacted the very next day by Amor Deus Publishing, (Latin for love of God), the national Catholic publishing company which published his book.
While he had obtained permission from patients to share the stories, Ladouceur has changed names, sexes, ages, and other factors to shield patients and families.
“These are stories for the dying, but also for the living because they live with the experience too, and they brought comfort to the living,” said Ladouceur. “This book is about hope. It’s about finding peace. It’s for anyone who has suffered a loss, and we’ve all suffered lost.”
Born and raised in Albany, Ladouceur has lived in the area all his life outside of his military service with the Marines and the Navy. It was out of his time serving the country when he found himself in many “hostile areas” that his journey of spirituality began.
While serving in the 1980s aboard a ship, Ladouceur was designated the Catholic lay leader for his fellow crew, a position that he says “forced him to learn about his faith.” As a result, Ladouceur, a doctor of psychology, read extensively about spirituality to reconcile some of the things that he and other crew members had seen and experienced.
In 1994, Ladouceur was formally ordained. Since then, he has worked with patients at hospital ministries, Veteran’s Administrations, and Hospice organizations for more than two decades. He compiled the various accounts through his observations, countless stories shared by patients, families and colleagues; and from his own personal experiences.
Many stories reflect communications from “the other side,” signs that let families know their loved one is okay – from accounts of coins dropping out of nowhere, to flowers blooming from long-barren plants, to other unexplained accounts.
“Angels give us signs all the time but we are so preoccupied with the life’s activities and the limits of our human condition that we often miss the signs that are given to us,” Ladouceur said.
Ladouceur notes that across religions, theologies and cultures, many of the world’s faiths are based on how we are all connected somehow. He practices active listening to help patients and families open the door to their souls, and he uses “faith and reason” to help people with their spirituality, whoever they worship, including those who have been away from their church or have no church. Ladouceur says it may be the first visit or the tenth visit, but he tries to help patients and families move to their spiritual side, and leave them with tools to help them cope.
Ladouceur admits counseling patients at end-of-life can be a difficult process and compassion fatigue can set in at times. However, his own faith helps him get through it, along with other members of the Hospice team who he says, like the military, understand each other in a way that no one else can.
“We take care of each other, we do a lot of self-care to heal, and we debrief after a difficult loss,” says Ladouceur. “I also remain hopeful because these people are going to better places, some place wonderful ‘beyond the veil.’ I’ve been given glimpses of it, what I call special gifts. And hopefully one day, I’ll join them myself.”