JeanneLauree Olsen has spent more than 15 years as a hospice chaplain, working as part of an interdisciplinary team dedicated to helping terminally ill people and their loved ones respond to death with dignity and grace. As a non-denominational chaplain, she serves people regardless of their beliefs. JeanneLauree describes herself as “a midwife for souls.” She assists at the end of life the same way a midwife assists at the beginning of life. Prior to becoming a hospice chaplain, JeanneLauree spent a decade working as a co-therapist in a private psychology practice. She spent the next ten years traveling the world as a corporate speaker presenting keynote speeches to a blue-ribbon list of Fortune 500 companies, such as IBM, Pfizer, Boeing, and the Department of Defense. During that time she spoke to over one million people on three continents.
When the unfathomable happened in New York City on Sept 11, 2001, JeanneLauree reevaluated her priorities with regard to her work and radically redefined her career path. It was at that time she received a copy of Steven Levine’s book, A Year To Live. That book made her realize that death could be as beautiful and natural as birth—a radical departure from how the world generally sees it. That idea made such an impact that she took all of her experiences and knowledge and redirected her life toward serving as a hospice chaplain. She describes it this way, “I moved from the geography of the world, to the geography of the soul.”
JeanneLauree has proven success in using specific tools and techniques to disrupt today's general attitudes toward dying, which are fraught with fear and anguish, are impersonal and overly medicalized. She was able to use these principles to create a rich and joyous end of life experience for her own parents. The five years she spent caring for both of her parents confirmed the ease and effectiveness of JeanneLauree’s forward-thinking conviction that death can be infused with joy and beauty.