Helping people find words in hard times.

Hi! I’m Jon Swanson, chaplain, writer, consultant, teacher. 

Many of us struggle with what to say when someone has died, when bad news arrives, when things are hard. Or we need to hear some words in those moments. 

I’m experienced at finding words at hard times. 

That comes from more than fifteen years in higher education, fifteen years as a pastor, and now working as a hospital chaplain since 2015. My PhD is in rhetoric, so I’ve been teaching and studying words for a long time. 
More about me.

In my day job, I talk with people all the time in the hardest moments. One on one, in the moment. I hope that I don’t see you there soon, but if I do, I will help as much as I can.

To help you in those and other moments, I spend time writing essays and guides and lists and journals to help you find words in the hard times you are in.

This is Hard is a guide for what to say to loved ones when someone has died.
Giving a Life Meaning is a guide for leading funerals. (Read more about the book) is my almost daily commentary on prayer, God, and living. 
-“God. We Still Need You.”” A Year of Pandemic Prayer and Practice from a Hospital Chaplain feels like a prayer memoir.
-I’ve also written books for Advent and Lent

(All my books: and My comments about publishing

Get monthly updates to help you with “Finding Words in Hard Times.”

You can contact me at jon dot swanson at

Other conversations

I had a chance to talk with my friends and former colleagues from the Center for Congregations about “Navigating Grief and Lamentation”. We talked about the disappointment of expectations, reflective listening, and the way we learn through talking. Listen on  Megaphone  or Apple Podcasts