Thursday, September 11, 2014
An Affirmation of Hospice Caregivers
“An Affirmation of Hospice Caregivers”, by James E. Miller I believe in hospice caregivers. I believe that you do an amazing work. For you reach to people whose needs are great, people whose conditions can be difficult to witness and to attend, people whose lives are unfolding in ways they never imagined and never wanted. You- all of you- help fill a void in our society, for we as a culture do not deal well with dying and with death, and you lead the way in showing us how this can be done in healthy, loving ways. By acting as agents of change among us, you teach as well as serve, you envision as well as envelope, you encourage as well as entrust. Without question, much is asked of you. You are asked to be gentle while still being effective. You are asked to be compassionate while still being efficient and professional. You are asked to be knowledgeable while still bowing to the authority of others. You are asked to go wherever you are called, and you are asked to do what many today would not do, could not do, and to do this willingly and comfortably and warmly. So in the name of those who have been in your care and who presently are in your care, I honor you for who you are, for the work you perform, for the spirit you spread, and for the graciousness with which you spread it. On their behalf I thank you for bringing your smile into the dreariest of days, for caring your hope into the bleakest of circumstances, and for holding out the possibility that dying can be rich with living and with loving. On behalf of patients and families whose lives you radically improve, I thank you for all the listening you do- it’s ever so life-giving; for all the understanding you convey- it’s ever so life-affirming; for all the acceptance you provide- it can be life-changing. I thank you for those times when you provide excellent care, even when you’re exhausted; for those time when you remain where you are, even when you wish you could flee; for those times when you allow your quiet presence to do exactly what’s needed, even if you wish you could do more. I thank you for the extra energy you expend in being sure you care for yourself, knowing that’s the only way that you stay replenished for others. I thank you for doing all this while keeping homes and raising children, while caring for parents and maintaining love relationships, while making room for serendipity and for sacredness in your life apart. Especially I thank you for searching for the face of God in every person you care for, and for finding that face, and for honoring it each time you find it. Because as you do, you enable that other person to see that face too- in you. - James E. Miller One of our Chaplains used this affirmation in her Blessing of the Hands ceremony. What a sense of rightness permeates that affirmation. I pray that each of you Chaplains feels inspired having read that.