When Larry Greer, a building contractor in Maine, first received a Goddard postcard in the mail, he ignored it, thinking there was no reason for him to finish his bachelor's degree. But then a little magic and his wife, Peggy, intervened, and the next thing he knew, he and Peggy were driving to the college to learn about the programs offered. When he saw the sign that said, "Goddard College," he started crying without having any idea why. "If you told me then what would happen, I would have laughed in your face. No way would this lead to me holding the hand of someone who's dying," Greer said.
Fast forward almost a decade, and you can find Greer, now an ordained Interfaith minister, who specializes in death and dying, educating groups of ministers all over Maine on how to help parishioners come to terms with death. He completed his BA and his MA at Goddard, both degrees bringing him deeper into end-of-life studies. During his MA degree, he also developed a curriculum to help pastors as well as the general public cultivate greater awareness about death and dying in their lives and communities. He gives talks to medical professionals, including University of Maine nursing students, and Maine Medical Center doctors on the spirituality of death. Recently, he started leading workshops, based on Stephen Levine's ground-breaking book, A Year to Live, to three groups that include people as young as 20 and as old as 70 to explore issues such as unfinished business, forgiveness, and what people want in terms of disposal of the body.
His main job as an interfaith minister contracted with a local hospital in Scarborough, ME, to provide spiritual care for their patients brings him to nursing and assisted living facilities, homes, and hospitals. His work doesn't just inspire people; it brings them to his door. He tells the recent story of sitting down to dinner with his kids and grandkids when someone knocked at the door, and said, "My friend is dying." He looked at his family, who completely support his work, and they told him he had to go.
His work and calling are one and the same. "There is that piece, the call, and if don't answer it, it becomes a monologue, and not a dialogue." He's answered the call that came to him through a postcard in the mail, and it turned out to an extensive dialogue that provides others ways to engage with the biggest questions of their lives.
Pictures: Larry at home in Alfred, ME., and the studio where he gives some of his workshops. You can also contact Larry at LarryGreer@roadrunner.com directly to arrange talks or workshops.