Creating Caring Presence Week 1
Discussion Forum exercise: Reflection – share a brief summary of a time you received pastoral / spiritual care and what that was like (effective or ineffective) – share a time when you offered spiritual / pastoral care
1) share a brief summary of a time you received pastoral / spiritual care and what that was like (effective or ineffective)
This year in June, I suffered a traumatic injury to my back, which required emergency surgery and extensive therapy. (I am blessed to be recovered now and back to a normal level of function.) At the time I was in a rehabilitation hospital. On several occasions a leader from by denomination visited me. While he was showing interest by showing up in my hospital room, however I experienced his visits as ineffective for the following reasons: He never knocked on my door nor did he ask if this was good time for a visit. Each time I felt he was barging into my space. He made statements like, “I know how you must be feeling…” He made self reference to his own past injuries even though I had not asked about them. It felt like he was there just to “check a box” that he had visited me, furthermore it seemed to me that he felt uncomfortable with my pain and vulnerability resulting from my injury. As a result he appeared to fill the time with his own familiar topics. He even used prayer in a rote manner, never asking about my spiritual needs or experience of God in the trauma and recovery.
2) share a time when you offered spiritual / pastoral care
Yesterday I visited a resident of Normandie Ridge senior community in the local hospital. This was not my first contact. I have seen her previously in the hospital, on other occasions for previous health concerns. I knocked on the door and asked if I could enter and if this was a good time for a visit. She welcomed me. I noted how gray she looked, I saw the high flow oxygen cannula was being used, and she was on IV.
Chaplain: I had heard you were here in the hospital and I had wanted to stop by to see how she was doing. (Nurse comes in and brings lunch tray, placing it on a rolling bedside table out of L’s reach. Nurse exits.) Thank you for letting me see you today.
L: I am really not doing very well. (breathing ragged)
Chaplain: (Pause) It sounds like you wish things were different or better.
L: Oh yes. I have pneumonia and they can’t find an antibiotic to treat me. They are still looking for one that works. And if I talk too much my oxygen level goes too low.
Chaplain: I understand. Talking too much right now can impact you in a negative way. I don’t expect you to try to carry on an conversation beyond what you can.
L: I am so glad you came. Thank you.
Chaplain: Would you care to tell me anything about what its like for you right now?
L: Oh I’m worn out and tired. Can’t get out of bed and my heart is affect by all this too.
Chaplain: (Pause to see if there is more…) Yes, I understand your having a hard time because of feeling weary, and your facing complications beyond the pneumonia. It sounds like you miss the strength you had, too.
L: That’s right, thank you for coming to see me, it means a lot.
Chaplain: I am glad to be here with you. L. is there anything I can do to encourage you or to lift your spirits?
L: No. Just coming is enough.
Chaplain: Would you welcome a blessing prayer?
L: Yes that would be ok. (Previously L would deny my offer of prayer, although she had a background of faith and participation in the church.)
Chaplain: OK I ‘d like to pray for the things you mentioned today.
L: That’s fine…
(Chaplain offers brief prayer.)
L: And Lord help restore my faith. Amen.
(L looked spent. I could read the declining #’s of her oxygen level, so I decided to exit, but noted this open door for follow up discussion about her search for faith.)
Chaplain: Linda, thank you for letting me share these moments with you. I look forward to seeing you again, I hope to hear you are improving, and finding a renewed faith. Can I do anything else for you before I go?
L: Ask the nurse to bring my tray closer for lunch.
Chaplain: Ok, I will be glad to get the nurse, God bless you.