“What do you say when people ask how you can work in hospice?”
Near the end of a long Friday, and at the end of a tough week, a colleague—a weary chaplain who had been with a few “tough” patients—posed that question.
That question. That question.
I won’t share the details of our conversation because—like everything in hospice—confidentiality is a priority. But my co-worker did have several demanding visits in a row with patients and their families. Everyone with a job they enjoy has days like my colleague. But in hospice, the folks you meet—the scared or angry person, the silent or talkative person, the openly sharing or mask-the-feelings person—are all involved with dying. Friends or family members are now visiting or caregiving for a “patient.” Their loved one, whether an infant or an octogenarian, won’t get better.
How can my colleague not wonder if anything that was said truly helped the patient and family? How can you not question any words you shared? If you resist the clichés or platitudes that never bring comfort in a time of dying, then what words can be offered? You prepare to visit homes where a family’s world is falling apart and, before pressing the doorbell, you might contemplate (for a few selfish, exhausted seconds) scurrying back to the car.
Awkward silences. Read More →by