I remember rejection.
Every new patient that entered into hospice care was assigned a team that included a nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain. Different hospices might have other staff available to a patient. For example, one hospice where I worked had someone that did light housecleaning. (And she was really popular with families!)
With the exception of a nurse, a patient could decline or limit visits from the team. Though biased, I always thought I was the most declined.
Sometimes it would be the case manager nurse who’d tell me the patient didn’t want a chaplain to visit. Sometimes I’d phone to introduce myself and see if there was a good time to swing by to meet the family. “No thanks,” they’d say. Most refusals were polite. A few were less polite. (“We don’t want you around Gramps talking death and hell.” Before I could offer a second opinion, the line—much more so than Gramps—was dead.)
There are many reasons patients and families decline a chaplain’s visit:
- They had no interest in religion, faith, church, God, the afterlife, or any other holy whatever.
- They were already involved in a synagogue, parish, mosque, or church, with regular visits from their clergy and members of their faith community.
- The only reason for a pastor/priest was saying a final prayer near death and/or to comfort the family after the last breath. In other words, they’d welcome the chaplain when the patient was knocking on heaven’s door.
- They didn’t want a religious professional scheming to change their hearts and minds about their current lousy or lovely beliefs about God, or to remind them of all their real and imagined lifetime of mistakes, regrets, and sins.
Please, bring on the nurse with the drugs that will ease the pain, but keep the chaplain and the happy words or guilty prayers as far away as possible!
What’s a chaplain good for anyway? Read More →by