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.
I wanted to write something to my generation. I was prepared to be sarcastic. “Hey Boomer! Tell your kids that you are going to die so they know what to do when it happens. Because we are dying.” I wanted to write it because I work in a hospital. I talk to families before and … Continue reading Hey Boomer. We’re dying.
“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.
I’m working to be helpful in a variety of places. The other Friday night, I offered the following as a series of tweets. +++ It’s possible that someone you know lost a loved one this week. It’s possible that you aren’t sure what to say. As a hospital chaplain, I’ve thought about this a little … Continue reading Resources to help you help others in grief.
Two years ago, I published Giving a Life Meaning: How to Lead Funerals, Memorial Services, and Celebrations of Life to help people lead funerals, memorial services, and celebrations of life. Two weeks later, those gatherings were disrupted. It felt like really bad timing. I wondered whether I needed to rewrite it for online services or whether … Continue reading A book for when you need to lead a funeral or memorial service
I get texts from friends. I get Facebook messages. I get direct messages on Twitter. I get emails. And sometimes I simply do not know how to respond. These are not mean messages. They are often kind. “When’s a good time to get together?” “I hope you are doing well!” “Congratulations. I bet you are … Continue reading What to say when you can’t respond yet
Having a community of writers helps the process of writing. During the past five years, the chaplains I work with have written several books connected to providing care in hard times. Patrick Riecke, How to talk with sick, dying, and grieving people (2018) Patrick Riecke, How to Find Meaning in Your Life Before it Ends … Continue reading A community of (chaplain) writers