Archive for Prayer – Page 2

Dying in the Middle Room

a renovated suburban house with several rooms...

A renovated suburban house with several rooms…

The patient was restless.

An ambulance brought her to our hospice’s home—a renovated suburban house with several rooms—for pain management. She was also close to death. The only local family for the seventy-something woman was a granddaughter, overwhelmed by raising her kids and trying to be her grandmother’s caregiver. The patient’s siblings had already died. The patient’s daughter was, again, in rehab. A son, an Army officer, was traveling from somewhere in Europe, hoping to see his mother before she died.

[For disclaimer, click here.]

Right now, in the hospice home, in the middle room with its two beds, there was only the dying, restless patient, a nurse, the doctor, and the chaplain. One bed was empty. But the second bed, where the patient lay, shifted with her unsettled body, with her soft random moaning, with her eyes opening and closing. Read More →

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In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)

When I was a hospice chaplain . . .

worldhandsJesus broke the rule of not working on the Sabbath—he healed!—and was condemned by the authorities. Worse, he healed a woman. Worse yet, the incident occurred in a synagogue. While I am a Christian, I don’t think the implications of this passage are bound only within Christianity or Judaism. Whether someone is Hindu, agnostic, or spends weekends worshipping a three iron while strolling along his or her favorite golf course, Jesus’ statement resonated with universal truth.

I’ve seen it in hospice. One of the suggestions I make to families is to let their loved one know—when it seems appropriate—that it will be all right for him or her to die.

A person of faith, with tears and anguish, invites the dying loved one to trust that death is not the end. Let go, return fully to God, Allah, the Higher Authority. A person without faith, also with tears and anguish, invites the dying loved one to trust that death will not reduce the meaning of their life or cause them to be forgotten by the living. Let go, let suffering end.

One of my patients was never told by his wife that it was all right for him to die. It was too hard for her and, in part, I understood. His nurse and I wondered if that was why he lingered longer than we expected. And we wondered if he knew his lovely bride of over sixty years was out of the room, briefly gone to fix dinner for herself, when he finally died. I think he knew. Read More →

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All For The Better

Once, as a hospice chaplain . . .

The social worker and I decided to visit together. We shared some patients and two were miles from the hospice office. Carpooling was a good use of resources. Additionally, the families wouldn’t be interrupted by one-more-phone-call to schedule a visit.

On the way there, I confided, “You know, this does defeat part of our impact.”

“What do you mean?”

“We won’t get much of a chance for one-on-one encounters. A lot of what we do is based on being with the patient or family member. Having another person around changes that.”

“Oh,” was mostly what she replied. On we drove, excellent stewards of hospice resources.

holding-handsAt the first visit, the husband was the patient. Chairs encircled his bed. Since he was hard-of-hearing, I initially stood beside the bed, speaking loudly. He kept chatting; I listened. Occasionally I’d raise my voice to pose a question. During that time the social worker and the patient’s elderly wife and daughter retreated to the living room. Later, I joined the women in the living room. “Perfect timing,” the social worker said. “We were just talking about . . .” And soon the wife and daughter asked how to best engage their 88-year old husband/father in a conversation about dying. I could answer, because he and I had just shared about his feelings. They also welcomed my comments about how much his wife represented an essential part of his spiritual support. “Really?” the wife marveled. “He said that about me?” She grinned, obviously pleased. Read More →

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