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Only hours after reviewing the week three readings and spending some quiet time reflecting upon my learning in the course, I had profound conversation that really impacted me. My associate chaplain and I were in a “team meeting” when I shared with him the poor prognosis of a resident here we both know well and with whom the associate chaplain had had some recent meaningful contact. After hearing my report, he said with a good deal of pathos, “You know, what I hate about this position is that I often just get a meaningful relationship built with a resident and they die.” My associate chaplain has been here for three years. I thought in that moment about how many times I have had the same experience over ten years, and I recognized that I have started to avoid investing myself with our residents in that way. This is not burnout, but compassion fatigue that is part of the burnout.
I am grateful for the resources this course has given me to take next steps to care for myself in (hopefully) reconstructive ways. I am making contact with a spiritual director to establish some sessions via zoom. I have also ordered John Sanford’s book, Ministry Burnout, to do some further reading and self-study. I have been maintaining my spiritual disciplines of daily prayer and participation remotely with the local church where I worship and will certainly continue.
I want to express gratitude to all of you–Rick, Deanna, and Lisa–for sharing yourselves along this journey. It has been an immense help to me.