Archive for Refusing Help

I Just Want Them to Be with Me

This newborn day is where I can dare to make a difference…

When serving as a chaplain for another hospice—like hopefully all chaplains in all hospices—I never emphasized my personal faith. But then and now Christianity influences me, even as I try to remain open to learning from the various religious traditions (or lack of religion) represented by the dying patients and families that have been part of my work.

In the Gospel of Luke, 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)

This verse from Luke is one of the places where Jesus broke the rule about not working on the Sabbath—he healed!—and was condemned by the religious authorities. Worse, he healed a . . . woman! Worse yet, the incident occurred in a synagogue. While I am a Christian pastor, I don’t think the implications of this passage are limited to Christianity or Judaism. Whether someone is Hindu, agnostic, or spends weekends worshipping a three iron while strolling along a 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. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Everyone (mostly) Needs Help

According to the social worker’s earliest notes on the medical chart, the patient’s son didn’t want any grief support after his father died.

The nurse who’d cared for his father echoed those sentiments when the family was discussed in the hospice team meeting. Since the patient—the father—had been in our hospice’s care for several months, there had been multiple visits by the social worker, nurse, and chaplain. All agreed the son said (before and at the time of death) that he was okay. Additionally, the son’s cousin—more like a trusted friend since childhood—happened to be one of our hospice nurses.

This cousin/nurse affirmed what others concluded: the son had shared he didn’t need additional bereavement support after his father’s death.

He.

Was.

Fine.

But the cousin, my hospice colleague, also said to me, and to the social worker who’d write the official chart notes, that the son should be contacted anyway.

“Give him a call,” the cousin/nurse said. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

A Cursed, Crushing, Conflicted Concoction of Feelings

Long ago, maybe around Easter, with Dad, my younger sister, and me . . .

When my father bellowed and ordered me to leave his home, it was as if a double-edge knife had penetrated my heart. Like a rusty, bent blade, it twisted with the volume and intensity of Dad’s outburst.

One side of the blade was love. One, hatred.

We did not know then about his dementia.

Odd how, with those we love the most and the surest, we can experience such damning and damaging of reactions.

Dad’s unexpected roar came partway through a mundane visit home, where I balanced time with my parents while attending a conference. Fine! If he didn’t want me around—though I had no clue why—I could find a motel near the downtown conference, crash with a friend attending the event, or head home where my wife and pets would at least treat me with respect.

Mom intervened.

Odd to sit around the old kitchen table, with my parents now married for six decades, and to have your mother forcefully demand that her husband apologize to their son. Dad did. Looking back now, why wasn’t it obvious? He was hardly smiling anymore. His eye contact with others had become random and held no welcome or curiosity. At that table, Mom chided him. Mom warned him. Mom prevailed. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather