For many years I have been involved in Hospital Ministry, first as a trained volunteer, then as a trained Hospital Chaplain. Not everyone can do this type of work. Certainly not my husband who is an ordained minister but freezes at the thought of going to visit people in the hospital.
But for some reason, I have always enjoyed this ministry and always come home feeling very blessed. One of the other chaplains I worked with in Nebraska told me she felt the same way and sometimes thought we shouldn’t even get paid for what we do. Although, she didn’t tell that to our boss or payroll.
I started doing this type of ministry over twenty-five years ago, and over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about loss and grief and the complicated human reaction to it all. That knowledge and experience was beneficial when I was writing my latest book, One Small Victory. The central character loses a son to a car accident, and her grief is an important element of the story. As is the grief of her other children.
There are as many faces to grief as there are people, and as I continue this blog I will share some of the stories that I was privileged to be a part of during my work.
One thing to keep in mind as you read my ramblings is that hospital chaplains, like military and prison chaplains, are cut from a different cloth than other holy people of God and/or ministers. We are not preachers. We don’t visit the sick and dying with the intent of “saving their soul.” Somebody already did that 2000 years ago. We are not trying to FIX anything. Boy did my CPE instructor have a time drilling that into my head.
What we do when we visit the sick and dying is give them an opportunity to talk about things that perhaps they cannot say to family members or friends. We listen to their stories, validate their feelings, and sometimes help them to accept death. Religion and prayer are only a part of the equation if religion and prayer are important to the patient.
And why am I telling you all this? Well, I thought it might be interesting to focus the blog on a topic instead of what I’ve been doing, which is write about anything that irks me at the moment. And maybe having a focus will prompt me to at least write something once a week. So starting next week, I will share stories from my experiences and hopefully we can connect on some emotional level.
Until next time….