Mary M. Wrye

Good morning all,
I am playing catch up and without boring you with all the details of my last week, please know that I am in the mix now.
Paul… you and I are in the same boat. I am the lone chaplain with week day on-call, with a guy that covers 3 weekends a month. I still cover one weekend. But I am still the one who gets called when they find a homeless guy in the Chapel and don’t know what to do with him. I still get the calls when someone is being discharged and literally has no where to go (we have a policy that we do not sit anyone out without a “safe” discharge).I even get calls from our local hospice when they can’t find one of their TWO chaplains (their in-patient unit is located in our hospital building)!! I was told by a former boss/CEO that “chaplains can’t have a bad day”! Fortunately he is gone and I report to someone better.

Laura – I think you spoke about taking a hit with colleagues because you didn’t tear up in situations. I think there are places for that, but for the most part our patients, and staff have come to us because they need someone who can help them stand steady in the boat that is in some rough waters. They are looking for a steady hand, a logical voice, a place to feel safe. If we have a “come apart” (as we say in KY) with them, we may not be as helpful as we need to be.

I appreciate the distinction between Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Secondary Trauma. I can’t say as I have thought about Secondary Trauma, but within 3 days of each other I was called in twice because a young mother took her three month old baby to bed with her. You can figure out the rest. While I have no children of my own… those two calls have taken a toll on me. I am having a hard time letting go of my grief for those sweet young mothers.

I hang on the to fact that I plan to retire in 13 months (unless the stock market blows up completely!). It is my heart’s desire to run through the finish line with folks saying “NO… you can’t retire” rather than holding the door open saying “thank God, I thought she would never leave”!!

Thank you all for walking this journey with me.