Thursday, August 6, 2015
Words that Heal
I’m not much on verbosity when brevity can be the better teacher. This is the case in writing on the subject of words that heal. The words that hurt deserve a long and painstaking explanation because those types of words are the product of a lack of thought and knowledge on the part of the speaker. I mentioned the friends of Job in my last posting. At the beginning of their time with Job, they were sensitive and caring. And, then, they got the idea that they needed to provide explanations to Job for his suffering. Human nature is such that we must fill the silence with something. This is not a good thing. So, here are a few scenarios and examples of words that heal… Remember your CPE Training and be present in the moment, listen more than talk, let your body language speak that you care and are with the patient. The patient says, “I think it’s more than a little unfair that I have this and that I’m going to die so young.” Your response: Think about it. What will you say? How will you say it? What will your body language tell this patient…your facial expression, your posture? If you say something, it might be something like this: (with outreached hand, hold the patient’s hand) “I am so sorry. It must be awful/painful/sad or whatever one word fits.” As you speak look the patient in the eyes and let your being speak to theirs. Have you thought that at the beginning of the conversation three thoughtfully and sensitively framed questions might guide the patient? “How are you doing physically?” “How are you doing emotionally?” How are you doing spiritually?” Of course, these questions are used when you have an established relationship of trust. Said slowly, waiting for response is the best approach. I am sure you have your own style, but whatever your style I think we can agree that we must be sensitive, carry no agenda, seek not to explain, openly desire to support and comfort. The humble spiritual caregiver you are will speak with a language no words can describe. Bless you, Chaplain Colleagues, in your efforts to express a heart of comfort.