Monday, April 20, 2015

When you watch a friend die…

A hospice Chaplain by virtue of the calling is witness to many patient deaths. It is always a tough time for family members. Rarely do I walk away from such a moment untouched. That is why a Chaplain and Bereavement Counselor will pull the IDT members together for a debriefing. We are emotional beings and feel the pain of loss. It’s just the nature of the work. Watching a friend die adds a different dynamic to the pastoral care experience. Many are the reflections that course through the Chaplain’s mind during a visit and afterward. And when death comes, the Chaplain grieves as a friend would grieve. Knowing oneself and one’s reaction to death is part of who we are as Chaplains. Did we go through CPE for nothing? Allowing ourselves to grieve is a key to healthy mourning. No one has ever asked a Chaplain to be a robot with no feelings. It seems to me that from what I am reading about the latest artificial intelligence that robots may actually emote one day. Feeling human pain does not weaken our position as Chaplains. Actually, it strengthens who we are. We do not mourn as those having no hope. We mourn because we will miss our friend and our friend’s great contributions to the community or humanity. Gosh, if you can’t mourn that… So, yes, the Chaplain has permission to grieve the loss of a friend. Please do. You’ll be the better for it. Bless you, Chaplain Colleagues. Yours is a sacred profession. A very challenging sacred profession, indeed.

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