Archive for Chaplains

I Know More than the Hospice Staff

YouTube Expert

When first admitted into hospice care, one of the patients mentioned they looked forward to the chaplain’s visit. In recent years, before and especially during his illness, this person told the admitting nurse about reading (and re-reading) the Bible cover-to-cover.

“There’s nothing the chaplain can say that I don’t already know about the Bible.”

Really?

Did humility, humor, or hubris influence our new patient’s claim? Were the words boastful or spoken to avoid more difficult emotions? What is easily said on the “surface” may hide deeper questions or concerns. Like, Won’t someone please listen to me? or perhaps Let me start with a subject I can control—knowing the Bible—to eventually risk revealing what is out of control . . . my fear of dying.

Many of the people all hospices serve have faith traditions with a unique book. The Hindu reveres the Bhagavad-Gita. Jews claim the Torah. Christians embrace the New Testament. Muslims honor the Koran. Some patients may know little about the sacred text at the center of their religion, while others might possess a scholar’s awareness. A life-threatening disease can cause one person to explore—for the first time, or with renewed energy—the words of her faith, hoping to uncover answers or encouragement. The next person might scorn his religion’s traditions because the illness proves God doesn’t care or never existed.

A hospice chaplain enters into a person’s life, from hours to months. The chaplain has no interest in interpreting, defending, or condemning any scripture. Instead, what is important to the chaplain is what is important to the patient. Even more essential, what are the real hurts and hopes in the shadows behind a patient’s knowledge, ignorance, or doubts about their faith?

What are the deeper questions? Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Take Advantage of Hospice!

A friend’s grandmother recently entered hospice care. (Which, for confidentiality’s sake, may not be correct. It’s not his grandmother. And my friend could be a her rather than a his.)

This is all you need to know: my friend is tired. Caring for a loved one is exhausting.

Soon after the grandmother entered hospice, my friend planned respite time because of being weary and worn down. 

What? Respite? What’s that?

The Medicare benefits of hospice allow for an occasional “break” for caregivers. At the hospice where I work, that means a patient could spend several days away from their home and stay at our inpatient facility, a modified suburban house. With only six beds, space isn’t guaranteed. But if there’s a bed, a parent or spouse or other beloved can be supported while the primary caregiver rests—gets respite. There are other choices, such as briefly entering a skilled nursing facility or hospital. All hospices will have suggested options for respite time. Ask one of the hospice staff. They will have an answer. Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

On Saying as Little as Possible to a Hospice Patient

“We made a lot of mistakes,” the wife said.

Before I* could respond, she continued talking about how she and her husband had both worked seven days a week until they retired.

“Should’ve taken more Sundays off,” she mused.

Then she veered into mentioning communion in the Episcopal Church, which caused her hard-of-hearing husband to loudly announce, “We used grape juice, ya know,” referring to his Baptist-oriented childhood.

On they chattered for a few more minutes, with me listening, trying to follow their wandering, ever-expanding subjects.

Finally, when each took a breath, I asked her, “What mistakes do you think you made?” Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather