I was sitting next to my mother’s bed, keeping watch during the last hours before she died. I’d been a hospital chaplain for a few years, long enough to know what I said to other people, now having to tell them to myself. I don’t have any way to prove what I’m about to suggest. … Continue reading What I assume (but don’t know for sure) about that time while someone is dying.
Finding words of support in hard times isn’t about formulas. It’s mostly about listening, avoiding uninvited advice, and offering support for the current moment. Here’s a recent example, with some commentary on why I said what I said. +++ A friend texted the other day: “The police just brought my dad home. He got lost. … Continue reading A short conversation in a scary moment.
“Would you like your hands blessed, too?” my boss asked us. My co-worker said, “Yes.” I turned back to my monitor. I had expressed my dislike of going from nurse to nurse during Nurses Week, making the sign of the cross with oil, offering a blessing. My boss assumed that was the reason for my … Continue reading The blessing of the hands, 2022.
I’ll admit it. Easter is often hard in the hospital. We hear about the hope of the resurrection, that Jesus rose victorious over the grave, that we have life because he does. But we are in a building that exists because death still exists. Cancer still lives inside these walls. Accidents happen elsewhere and come … Continue reading “Why are you crying?” – an Easter message
I’m not great at celebrating with parties. Mostly because I’m enough of an introvert that my favorite parties are conversations over coffee in the corner. I am, however, in favor of acknowledging completions. For groups and organizations, there is value for a time of reflection at the end of seasons or school years, even if … Continue reading A time of reflection at the end of two years.
You can’t win a debate with dementia. Brains sometimes see things that don’t exist. Or that haven’t existed for thirty years. Or that didn’t actually exist in that way thirty years ago. Brains sometimes forget things that happened six times in the last hour. Or explanations that have been offered every hour for five days. … Continue reading You can’t win a debate with dementia
I recently was asked to talk to a healthcare team about self-care. Instead, I suggested 10 ways to help each other. I started with the word “survive”. I realized that “endure” sounds more encouraging, or hopeful, or long-term. But I’m still thinking about survive.) 1. Remember that we each survive differently, because 2. “Survive” means … Continue reading 10 ways to help each other survive (or maybe endure)
I’m sorry. Nothing: (Sixty seconds of silence) May I take care of that? (and take the tissue out of their hands and give them a fresh one and throw it away and wash your hands) This is hard. Yes, I remember that time. I don’t know. . whether pets are in heaven . . . … Continue reading 10 simple phrases when visiting in the first hours after a death.
We’re exhausted, many of us. We can’t quite figure out why. We can’t think as clearly as usual, we don’t have the motivation we used to. Our relationships are struggling, we’re more cranky. We think that there may be something wrong with us. But there isn’t. It’s grief. Grief is our response to loss. Our … Continue reading Grief and holidays in 2021
When you receive a hard diagnosis with a likelihood of death, people are glad to tell you what do to. They do it with intense certainty: “Do this treatment. Try this tool. Be courageous. Be strong.” And they do it with the best of intentions and the most anecdotal of data. “This worked for my … Continue reading A working list for life after a difficult diagnosis