Stephen Peterson has been working in the fields of palliative care and aging for 15 years. By way of background, Stephen studied at Stanford University and earned degrees in Human Biology and Psychology. He worked with the Northern California Service League providing services to inmates in the San Francisco County Jail and then traveled to South America, where he lived and taught secondary school in Quito, Ecuador. Returning to the U.S., Stephen became a Legislative Aide for California Assemblyman Byron Sher, who chaired the Natural Resources Committee.
During this period, Stephen asked himself the question, “What do I need to do to die in peace?” The answer was to spend time with questions of philosophy and theology in graduate school, which eventually led Stephen to earn a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, and later a Certificate in Palliative Care Chaplaincy from California State University San Marcos. As a result of a hospital internship, Stephen became exposed to chaplaincy in a health care setting, and was invited to join Mission Hospice in South Pasadena as a Chaplain.
Stephen went on to work also with Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care as Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator, and now serves as Director of Spiritual Care and Bereavement Services for Tranquil Care Hospice. Stephen has always been drawn to solving complicated problems, and the complexity of providing counseling, spiritual support, and care for the grieving has been a satisfying part of his journey.
Additionally, Stephen has been involved in the community, and participated in founding the Southern California Coalition on Spirituality and Aging, through which he helped to create the Certificate in Spirituality and Aging. Stephen is also a member of the San Gabriel End-of-Life Care Coalition, and has worked with colleagues to present conferences on topics including spirituality and medical care, the training of faith leaders to understand end-of-life care, and beginning difficult conversations about the dying process and medical planning. He has also had opportunities to present at the 6th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality on Spirituality at the End of Life, and at the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC) 8th Annual Summit: Ignite, Inspire, Innovate on Effective Integration of Spirituality in Palliative Care. Stephen has done consulting work with hospices, and is currently writing a book on dying and grief.