Archive for Prayer

In the Room Overlooking the Bougainvillea

Blossoms

With a window overlooking the bougainvillea

The patient was restless . . . to the extreme.

An ambulance transported her to our hospice’s inpatient facility—a renovated suburban house in a neighborhood close to the main office—for pain management. The only local family for the dying eighty-something woman was a granddaughter, overwhelmed by raising her own kids while serving as her Gram’s sole caregiver. The patient’s siblings had already died. The patient’s daughter was, again, in rehab in Florida. Her son was an Army officer stationed in Germany, scrambling to organize a plane flight to be with his mother before she died.

[For disclaimer, click here.]

Right now, in the hospice home, in a room with a window overlooking the bougainvillea adorning a fence, the restless patient, a nurse, the doctor, and the chaplain were gathered. One bed was empty. But the second bed by the window, where the patient lay, shifted with her unsettled body, with her soft random moaning, with her eyes opening and closing.

The doctor had tried several medications that she thought might calm the patient. To a certain extent, the dosages worked. Her agitation had lessened. Barely. Read More →

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Hospice’s Two for One

two for oneBack when working as a hospice chaplain, one of the newer social worker suggested that we visit together. We shared various patients as part of their hospice “team.” I recall that two of those patients lived a long and winding drive from our office. Carpooling was a good use of resources. Additionally, the families wouldn’t be interrupted by multiple phone calls from multiple staff trying to schedule multiple visits.

Everyone loves more phones calls and visits, right?

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

“What do you mean?” the social worker asked.

“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. She was young. She was new. On we drove, excellent stewards of hospice resources. Read More →

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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 →

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