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Grace and Peace from The Mohawk River Valley of New York State. The sun is shining. My newly planted pumpkin and flower seeds sitting on my parlor table near two windows are giving me joy as in the morning,they lean toward the east facing window. In the afternoon, they have moved to the south facing window.
Before responding to your thoughts, I want to respond to the excellent and highly academic article on compassion fatigue. Much to digest. The helpful element for me was the difference between burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious victimization.
To simplify for me Burnout–too many vicarious traumas over time that lead to compassion fatigue that wasn’t addressed and the person is out of fuel, energy, purpose. Sometimes we as spiritual care givers can help other professionals deal with a traumatic often ER situation. Hopefully we can decompress some how (other chaplains, family a friend, a self care routine. It happened, it’s over and done. Reframe and move on. Compassion fatigue is the natural response of people who pour themselves out for others esp. at a spiritual level. AGape love, love that ispooured out, we are a living sacrifice. But we can be refilled with power/love form the surce of love if we take the time to do so. ( Retreat) Burnout–end reslut of not dealing with the first two. To tired and empty to go on. We give up on running the race. My self advice here is to practice what I have learned about self care. One priest gives the image of going into a room with an emotional/spirtual sponge–soaking up what you can, leaving the situation and then squeezing the content of the sponge into God’s hands. to not won it. Also to allow myself to pull back to the office to chart or chapel to pray after a series of visits–it sort of feels like hiding or avoidance, but I need it to recharge. After really tough cases, I try to get outside, breathe deep, take a walk.
Another way I found to recharge is to gratefully partake of the cookies, candy treats sent by patients families to the nurses station or staff lounge. I think of the work with their loved one and enjoy the gratitude in the food. I try to practice the self care I preach. I remember on somedays, that Jesus only healed one person at the pool of Siloam. I also remember that even Jesus was powerless to stop Judas’ betrayal. I can’t help all people with all things, but by God’s Spirit I can help some people with some things. The refreshment that comes from the person’s uplifted sense of God or the Holy during or after a visit keeps me coming back. More on suffering after I make brunch for my family. 🙂