“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
— from Instructions for Living a Life, by Mary Oliver, American poet
Death is natural. And like birth, it is something we all share.
While most of us like to tell stories about a birth, few, if any of us, choose to talk about a death — until it is ours or that of a loved one. Then, besides the stories, there are hurts to heal, relationships to mend and many questions that have no easy answers. These are times when it helps to have the guidance of a trained professional.
Hosparus Health has a team of chaplains who navigate these situations every day by offering pastoral counseling. And while patients and families choose to involve chaplains, spiritual counseling is a required element of hospice care, mandated by Medicare.
Like all our team professionals, Hosparus Health chaplains must have a high degree of education and additional certification. All our chaplains have either a Master of Divinity or Master of Theology and two units of Clinical Pastoral Education. As one chaplain put it, the goal of our training is "to be the least anxious person in the room.”
Hosparus Health chaplains are there to help patients and families navigate the larger, meaningful questions that are common to us all: What is this life all about? What is the meaning of my life? Why me? Why now? The patient sets the agenda for the discussion and the chaplain walks alongside the patient and loved ones.
The first comforting message they share with patients and families is that are no “shoulds” and no “right” way for how one approaches the end of life. Secondly, our chaplains provide a safe place for a dying person to consider his or her whole life.
Too often, we focus on the negatives in our lives. And while all of us have regrets, our chaplains’ wise and compassionate presence offers hope that there is grace in this world, and that no one is defined by any regrettable action or actions.
This is done in part by guiding patients through a time of self-reflection. Talking about people or experiences that have sustained them through life. Exploring how well they have loved and how well they have been loved.
The chaplain may ask patients what has been beautiful in their life. What brings them joy. When they have felt the most alive. What values sustain them. How they hope loved ones will live with their death and keep their memory.
All our chaplains come from a faith tradition, but they don’t necessarily work within those bounds. They are respectful of all religions or no religion. Our team regularly invites clergy from a variety of faith traditions to share customs and practices so all Hosparus Health patients and families have the comfort of familiar language and traditions at this important time of life.
As a result of these collaborations, our chaplains have developed “Ceremonies of Passage,” a non-denominational book of prayers and services Hosparus Health makes available to all patients and families.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about the services offered by our chaplains, please call 502-456-6200.