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    • #5567

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      I just signed up for this course. Not sure if it is starting now or on March 11, 2020. Please confirm. Dianna Cox

    • #5571

      Angel
      Participant
      @Angel

      Hi Dianna,

      I am not sure either.  I just would like to say hello so I can be in the loop.  I somehow missed the other forums.  By the way, my name is Angel Sullivan I am an Ordained American Baptist Minister serving as a Hospital Chaplain.

    • #5572

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      I am happy to meet you Angel. I am a Ordained Lutheran Pastor and serve as a hospice chaplain. I am thinking this course might not start until the 11th. I hope folks join the topic truly interests me.

    • #5589

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Hello Angle and Dianna,

      We pushed back the launch for this seminar until today, March 10 in order to gather enough participants to make for a true collaborative learning experience.  We have 10 folks enrolled, so I am excited to get started in this important discussion. In order to reduce confusion, we plan to use this one thread for our discussion. Just click on “Reply” to share your welcome to others and share your introduction.  After you have reviewed the two resources, post your reflections in the same thread.

      This topic and the issues involved are always important to the work and recovery of spiritual caregivers.  I have been involved with the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities and a large rollout of a Truama Informed Care Resiliency program for the City of Louisville. Hence, I have shared with her permission, Dr. Middleton’s PowerPoint as an introduction or review of the overall topic.  Please find also a very brief article that I had published in the local Business First newspaper.

      After serving as a professional pastoral counselor for 30 plus years who burned out, I currently work as the part-time director at Oates, a bi-vocational pastor, an adjunct profession in Organizational Learning, and PRN chaplain.

      Remember to check the box in the lower-left corner of this page to receive updated email reminders.

      Rick @ Oates

       

    • #5595

      Mary M. Wrye
      Member
      @mmwrye

      Good afternoon folks,
      I am Mary Wrye. I am the Chaplain in a small community hospital in western KY. I have been a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist (first 8 years of my career), then got my MDiv and was on church staffs for 16 years. I got really tired of the underbelly of the church and I was given the opportunity to do a CPE Residency. I have been at this hospital for 15 1/2 years. While I love my work, the people I work with, and the place I work… I am the ONLY Chaplain. I get 3 weekends a month off (meaning I am on call every week night and a weekend a month). There have been times (like this last month) where I am called back to work multiple times during the week and some back to back (late Thursday night and EARLY Friday morning) with really tough calls to the Emergency Department. I am not doing a really good job of taking down time and I’m getting tired.

      So with that being said – I think this course is going to be for ME as I learn to help others do what I need to do. I look forward to learning from y’all.
      Mary

    • #5597

      Paul C. Edwards
      Participant
      @pedwards

      <div class=”bbp-reply-content entry-content”>

      Hello all:-

      I’m Paul. I’ve been a full-time chaplain at a community hospital for the past 14+ years. I’m an ordained American Baptist minister and am married with an adult son who lives out-of-state, pursuing his career as a Civil Engineer. I have a particular interest in end-of-life care and enjoy filling the pulpit (when I’m able). Outside of ministry settings, I enjoy gardening and I am pretty good at repairing computers, etc. Other hobbies are reading, music and language study, (though I’ve not been able to immerse myself in these for quite some time due to my current work load).

      Being solo (with occasional priest help) in addition to running my department of volunteers (Eucharistic Ministers and others), makes for a hectic week. Being on-call daily, throughout the week, does not help either. Thankfully, I have coverage on the weekends that relieves me of those on-call responsibilities. So, I’m always feeling drained. Even when I take “mental health days” and return, it does not take long for that “running-out-of-gas” state to return.

      I’m hoping this course will help me to be able to do better with my work-life balance. I’ve been feeling burn-out (meaning, no energy) although I’ve always managed to be spiritually present whenever called upon to attend to a ministry encounter. I’m really hoping I can come away with some tools that will help me to do more than just “get through” the week.

      (I think I erroneously started a new thread, until I saw this, so I re-posted here, to keep things uniformed, as Rick suggested)

      </div>

    • #5604

      Peter Wong
      Member
      @pwongs

      Hi

      I’m Peter from Kuala Lumpur. I was an undergraduate at Manhattan College prior to returning to Malaysia to pursue my graduate training. I retired

      from my faculty position last year and my wife followed my footsteps. While I continue to work as a therapist on a part time basis, I hope this course will

      be of help to me in adjusting my professional practice and church related prison ministry.

      peter

       

    • #5605

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Welcome, Laura, Paul, Wally, Peter, Mary, and others,

      I can’t think of a better topic and a better place than here to gather around our virtual table and talk about this topic that obviously affects/effects us all.

      Peter, we especially are glad to have you joining us from Malaysia.  Not that it matters, but what is the time difference from the US Eastern Standard Time?   Sounds like you are juggling at least three responsible positions.  Look forward to hearing more about each of those ministries.

      Laura, I am so glad you found us in the Forum.  It is wonderful to have you as well.  We look forward to hearing more about your setting and the specific issues that affect your work.

      Paul, it is always good to have you involved with your rich experiences. “Running out of gas” is an apt image for our discussion.  We hope to find refueling stations and tools that will help with that.

      Wally, I feel your grief over your loss of relationships even though the work was demanding at your last position. Hospice work presents its own challenges.

      Mary, thanks for joining us from down in Western, KY.  I hope to be in Owensboro later this month for the CBF KY meeting. I can’t imagine how lonely and demanding the work there must be.

      I hope others will join us soon with introductions. After you have reviewed the two assignments for this week, feel free to post your reflections, here.

      What questions do you have about the general information about Burn Out, Compassion Fatigue, and Secondary Trauma? What symptoms do you see around you and what symptoms are you willing to share here?

      I have been experiencing fatigue, a low-grade depression, gastrointestinal disturbances, lack of interest in food, nagging boredom, and chronic tiredness that doesn’t seem to get better with sleep.  While I know I am still grieving and dealing with a transition to a new home after 35 years in the place where we raised our three kids and where we lived our entire married life, these symptoms seem to indicate more.  Further, I mentioned that I currently have 4 part-time jobs and I don’t think I mentioned that I am 71 years old. As Mary said, I know this discussion is for me as well.

      Next week, we will begin to discuss some of the tools for combatting or working with this issue.

      Rick @ Oates

       

       

    • #5607

      Paul C. Edwards
      Participant
      @pedwards

      As I was going through the material for this week I noticed that I seem to fall more into the category of burnout and not so much compassion fatigue. I know I do not experience anger or resentment when I am paged or called upon to respond to an intensely traumatic event. No matter how tired/exhausted I might be, I find that I am able to easily make the transition to empathy, compassion, etc. and I am wholly/fully present. Another observation I have, arising out of the material, and certainly identifying with Rick’s comments, is that, no matter how much rest I might get, it never seems to be enough. Maybe I need a sabbatical?

      I found it fascinating when the material referenced secondary trauma. Early on in my chaplaincy experience, that might have been an issue for me. Not as much, these days, but it’s still something that lingers. I guess the big question is, “how do you just turn it off and go on about your business like the tragedy/loss did not occur?” I frown at those in my ministry setting who boldly proclaim that we should all “leave work at work”. It’s not as easy as one would like to think.

      In terms of symptoms, mine is mainly insomnia – can’t sleep, and then on the other end, it is waking up at some strange hour and not being able to resume sleep. That kind of interruption/disjointed sleep pattern leaves me even more tired. Each week day,/night I’m on edge, with high anxiety that the pager “might” go off. So, when I am not on-call on Saturdays, as of 7:01am, that’s when I find myself really at ease/at peace. Then it starts all over again on Monday.

      Paul

    • #5613

      CAshworth
      Participant
      @CAshworth

      <p style=”border-image-outset: 0; border-image-repeat: stretch; border-image-slice: 100%; border-image-source: none; border-image-width: 1; color: #737373; font-family: Lato; font-size: 100%; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 1.7; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; vertical-align: baseline; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 24px 0px; border: 0px none currentColor;”>Hi, all.  Not sure which thread we’re using, so I’ll post in both.  My name is Carol Ashworth, and I am an ordained Cooperative Baptist minister, serving as a hospital chaplain in Richmond, VA.  I work diligently to keep a work-life balance, and generally do pretty well, although we all have our times.  Primarily, though, I seek to help our hospital staff learn better ways to cope.  My hospital is actually comprised of two separate campuses, one of which is a Level I trauma center, and the other is Level III; however, it specializes in stroke care and cancer care.</p>
       
      <p style=”border-image-outset: 0; border-image-repeat: stretch; border-image-slice: 100%; border-image-source: none; border-image-width: 1; color: #737373; font-family: Lato; font-size: 100%; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 1.7; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; vertical-align: baseline; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 24px 0px; border: 0px none currentColor;”>I am single and share a home with my elderly father, having lost my mother last year.  Sometimes my work life is less stressful than my home life!</p>
       

      • #5623

        Angel
        Participant
        @Angel

        Hi Paul,

        I just read your comment and would like to respond to the quote, “Leave Work at Work.” Initially in my call as Chaplain it was difficult to leave work at work.  I would think about the patients ways I could have been a more supportive Chaplain, and all the other emotions that come with the nuances of being a new Chaplain .  Over time, I have learned ninety-five percent of the time to leave work at work, however it is not a “hard” leave.  What I mean by that is, I try to take the time to honor the day, the people that I have provided support to, and the experiences that happened.  Sometimes this is done in a closing prayer, or in a meaningful car ride home, or time at the gym.  As my family is aging, as well as myself, I realize my time with them is shorter.  I choose to be fully present with my family. If I don’t leave my patients and the day at the hospital I am not present with my family or to myself.   Having that mindset has helped me to gently, and gratefully leave work at work.

    • #5614

      CAshworth
      Participant
      @CAshworth

      Okay, I’m going to try this again.

      Hi, all.  Not sure which thread we were using so I’ll post here as well. My name is Carol Ashworth and I am an ordained Cooperative Baptist minister, serving as a hospital chaplain in Richmond, VA.  I work diligently to keep a work-life balance, and generally do pretty well, although we all have our times. Primarily, though, I seek to help our hospital staff learn better ways to cope. My hospital is actually comprised of two separate campuses, one of which is a Level I trauma center, and the other is Level III; however, it specializes in stroke care and cancer care.

      I am single and share a home with my elderly father, having lost my mother last year.  Sometimes my work life is less stressful than my home life!

    • #5616

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      I appreciate the term “Compassion fatigue.”It seems like most of us are finding strength to press on, but are weary in doing so.  Two scriptures have often helped me  press on in the past.  “Do not grow weary in doing good for in due time you shall reap a harvest” and also, “come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.  Take up my yoke and learn form me for me yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  That being said, something happened at the nursing home over time where my energy to minister slowly waned as Rick said in his article:

      “Loss of interest in clients”

      Helping hundreds of residents, families and staffs through the death and dying process with people I had developed relationships with just wore me down.  I found myself not quite dreading the new residents and their families, but wondering How can I do this again and again.  I still carry some traumatic memories from my CPE experience esp in the ED with one child who died from swallowing a bead.  Those one shot trauma experiences also build over time.  I empathize with those of you who work solo or almost solo.  I had a supportive CPE group at the hospital where we were able to process and support each other difficult visits.  Not so much at the nursing home.  I learned somewhere to pat my self on the back, to talk over my daily successes at the nursing home with the Lord ( I envisioned high fines and fist bumps from Jesus.)  It helped me to energize and keep going.  It was good self care, but eventually I just had to put  the building, maintaining, losing and starting relationships over on a back burner.  I sought the residents out less and less.  My long drive didn’t help.  When the Hospice position opened nearer my home, I jumped at the chance.  But now as I go from being an established chaplain to the new guy who has to learn the Hospice charting system and minister to everyone at end of life I am wondering what did I get myself into.  I appreciate being able to share that with this group.  The needs will always exceed my ability to meet all of them.  In these early stages I am starting new and afresh, yet not with the same energy and enthusiasm of my younger days.  I like to hike mountains with fire towers on them for recreation and self care.  I need to approach this new opportunity with the same mindset as when I hike.  It is not a race.  I can’t do it all at once.  I need to pace my self and enjoy the journey.  I’ve noticed that most of my colleagues eat at their desks.  I am committed to stopping andeating in the lunch room or outside.  I will sometimes take a walk at lunch time.  Deep breathing is always helpful.  Spring is coming, the sunshine and flowers are helpful.  Singing (badly) by myself is helpful.  Trying to stay positive is helpful.  The benefit of both articles is that one needs to recognize compassion fatigue or burn out is happening, think about why and take some small steps to correct it if you can.  How to be nice to our selves.. Rick also mentioned negative self talk.  We often talk to ourselves in ways we would never talk to anyone else.  “I’m so stupid.”  “That was a dumb thing to say.” We are children of God, a king.  we are royalty, princesses and princes. sons and daughters  of the King.  We are created in God’s image, to love, to care, to create, to rest.

      Thanks for listening.

      • #5637

        Dianna Cox
        Participant
        @diancox

        Wally,
        I can relate to your comment about hospice. When I started I thought what have I gotten myself into. I have been with hospice for 2 years and just when I think I have a handle on how to do the schedule something changes and I need to re-think how do I do all of this. The driving between patients really helps me. One thing I don’t do if at all possible is eat in my car. Most of my team they eat in their cars. I try and stop for lunch, even it is a quick one, I find actually stopping to eat really helps.

    • #5617

      Paul C. Edwards
      Participant
      @pedwards

      In your comments, Wally, you expressed a bit of what I have been feeling for a while. I often ask myself, “How much longer can I keep doing this?”. I don’t find myself dreading the calls. What I find myself dreading, however, is knowing that another person is hurting, and there is nothing I can do to change that fact, except provide the compassion, empathy and spiritual support that befits the situation. I struggle with wanting to be that person who offers compassionate care, while at the same time feeling that it might be time to leave this ministry to someone who has fresh energy.

      My computer hobby takes me away from the stress of over-reflecting on death, poor prognoses and dysfunctional family systems. For some, that seems like work, but, while I “hate” software problems, I get a spark from solving hardware issues.

      It also helps to process my thoughts with a few folks that I am close to and with whom we share some history (ministry and non-ministry). Like you, Wally, I engage in an pretty active prayer life. That helps tremendously to maintain the balance, especially when my emotions are raw and I need a quick outlet. Having an office to retreat to is a bonus. I can shut the door and be alone when I need some downtime. (I know some settings don’t allow for that, and I know I am very fortunate with that option).

    • #5618

      Peter Wong
      Member
      @pwongs

      Thanks for your concern, Rick. Our time zone in Kuala Lumpur is 12 hours different from Eastern Standard Time. Although it’s now midnight for me (while you’re at noon in Kentucky), I’m used to staying up late unless I have an early appointment the next day.

      I do enjoy my semi-retirement now that I don’t have to clock in every weekday like I used to. I still carry on my tasks as the Malaysian representative for Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis International Research Network and I do research as well as conducting academic forum. Currently, I also work as a child and family therapist for a counseling center on a part-time basis.

      Since relocating to a new parish after my retirement, my work in church-based prison ministry has been delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, I’m looking forward to empowering prisoners, including those who have been sentenced to death.

      To all my coursemates, glad to hear from you!

      peter

       

    • #5619

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Welcome to Carol and Dianna and thanks to those who are sharing more of your journey with us and thanks to those who are beginning to interact.  Tuesday, we will be reflecting on some resources that move us more toward what we do for ourselves and others as we get some clarity with terminology.  Moreover, I am glad that some are beginning to share some of the kinds of issues that affect / effect the lights in each of lives.

      We all know from our experience that sharing our honest feelings, i.e. uncertainties, doubts, fears, as well as hopes and affirmations are crucial to maintaining balance. Obviously, this is a safe place to do that.  As I watched the TV coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the notices of all the closings, I was struck with the fact that we all need to be finding creative ways to do more safe, connecting for our own wellbeing as well as our family and friends and to those with whom we minister.

      Share on my friends as we find ways to keep the light on in times are seem bleak and dark.

      Rick @ Oates

       

       

       

       

    • #5624

      Angel
      Participant
      @Angel

      “Prevalence”

      I was surprised to learn the statistics on work-related stress of the Social Work Students at their field placement sites.  I encounter many Nursing and Social Work students at my job, and while I always make myself available, and provide Spiritual Support Education, I am now wondering if I should explore better ways to specifically support the student(Nurse and Social Work) population at my work place.

    • #5628

      Peter Wong
      Member
      @pwongs

      Hi Angel,

      Your description of “leave work at work” resonates very strongly in me. Even after decades of practicing as a therapist, I continue to remind myself each time I leave the counseling room to leave not just my client’s problem there but to also to offer the matter  into God’s hands. This is part and parcel of the way I integrate spirituality into the session, taking into consideration the client’s background, needs as well and the choices they make.

      On the other hand,  “NOT leaving work at work” and carrying a client’s problem home is taking on extra burden NOT meant for the therapist. Sooner or later such extra load will accumulate and eventually the therapist will suffer from burnout, consequently affecting the quality of therapy.

      peter

    • #5629

      Laura Broadwater
      Participant
      @Laura

      Paul, when I began ministry a lifetime ago, a friend of mine gave me this advice, go to the hospital, visit the patient, but don’t get in bed with them.  If I am emotionally engaged and worn, then I have to reflect on what hooks me in the situation.  I have colleagues who are greatly disturbed that I don’t well up in tears at the drop of a hat.  I think it is because, I check myself, and check for transference, go enabling, for unhealthy processing.  I don’t think that makes me cold or uncompassionate.  I feel it makes me more available to care and tend the spirit of the person with whom I am ministering.

    • #5631

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      All,

      Please allow me to share my brief thoughts about leaving work at work.  As a therapist and supervisor for many years, my mantra for myself and those who were developing their skills as a therapist was as follows.  We are called to be responsive to our clients but not responsible for their outcomes.”  I have to remind myself that I am not God. I am not responsible for everyone’s life.  It is idolatry to raise my concern for a suffering brother or sister to ultimate concern.  I see my role as a midwife or gardener.  God does the healing.

      Rick

    • #5632

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      All,

      Please allow me to share my brief thoughts about leaving work at work.  As a therapist and supervisor for many years, my mantra for myself and those who were developing their skills as a therapist was as follows.  We are called to be responsive to our clients but not responsible for their outcomes.”  I have to remind myself that I am not God. I am not responsible for everyone’s life.  It is idolatry to raise my concern for a suffering brother or sister to ultimate concern.  I see my role as a midwife or gardener.  God does the healing.

      Rick

    • #5633

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      All,

      Please allow me to share my brief thoughts about leaving work at work.  As a therapist and supervisor for many years, my mantra for myself and those who were developing their skills as a therapist was as follows.  We are called to be responsive to our clients but not responsible for their outcomes.”  I have to remind myself that I am not God. I am not responsible for everyone’s life.  It is idolatry to raise my concern for a suffering brother or sister to ultimate concern.  I see my role as a midwife or gardener.  God does the healing.

      Rick

    • #5634

      Laura Broadwater
      Participant
      @Laura

      Several years ago I attended a compassion fatigue conference in Ohio.  I compared this material to some of that material.  Rick you listed a plethora of symptoms.  When Jesus said, “Tend my sheep,” (John) he included all of us, too.  I personally live in a fragile balance of life.  If one part becomes out of balance, I have to employ a number of tools for help: walking, writing, verbal processing, working in the yard, change of scenery, stress balls or clay.  I also call in my troops for support.

      I engage several patients with anxiety disorder.  Sometimes I explore that to see if it the anxiety is organic or recent behavior, or a reaction to an immediate situation.   People know the difference.  I love seeing people do needle work, crafts, coloring, crossword puzzles, seek and find in the hospital.  Some love to read books.  Those activities allow me to explore coping skills for their hospital stay.  Those skills are healthy.  However there are those organic folks who cannot self calm and must rely on meds.  I check in with patients over a period of time to see if they can name one thing for which to give thanks.  I find that is a silent way to help elevate the mood.

      I engage a lot of staff who are truly overstretched.  There is a shortage of staff as our hospital transitions under new leadership. But the stretch is 5 months old and staff are weary.  They work 16 hour days with too many patients, no self care and home responsibilities.  There is some financial renumeration for picking up.  Stretching staff is a way to create an environment for error.  It challenges me to find ways to support staff.  I hear the, “I quit.”  I get so frustrated that administration cannot see how much more cost effective it is to add staff, create a healthier work environment and happier employees.  I feel like my advocacy for staff and safety falls on deaf ears.  The fight is gone and the plans for taking flight are in place.  It makes my heart sad to see good people with great skill and care, in burn out.

    • #5635

      Laura Broadwater
      Participant
      @Laura

      I love the “hiking” and “deep breathing.”  I worked trauma for years. My passion for trauma did not stop, but I could not walk out of one facility where someone was an organ donor after working with that patient and family and walk into the other side of the campus and see who received those donations.  It was mentally too hard for me.  Or working with a family in trauma and death and then again with heart disease walking the journey of grief repeatedly.  So I left the trauma care side and focus on the recovery side.   My goal is to always leave kindness and compassion.  But I also think changing up the ministry focus helps.   A year ago I began working with spinal cord patients.  I get really ecstatic about this work.  The physical part of recovery is hard work but wow, how awesome God is in working in the midst with this population.  I learn so much from them.  I also challenge the deep, dark places of the soul with them as they work to be whole. WE have a great relationship that involves so much laughter and humor.  How else do I handle bowel and bladder conversations?     Last month, Rick had a course called Option B with Trish Matthews, I adapted many things in that book for my spinal cord patients.  They absolutely love the discussion with their grief.  I also developed a passion for endocarditis patients as they travel through recovery.  There are so many options that allow ministry to be fresh each day.

    • #5636

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      I have for the most part been able to let go of one patient before I see another patient. This is easier to do since I work in hospice as I need to drive sometimes quite a distance between patients. The work is very powerful. I have found that end of life care I need to be intentional about letting go of the stories. I have tried to enhance my prayer life especially as I come home from work. I have lots of candles. Some are battery and some are real flame. I light them in honor of the patients and lift up their concerns to God. I leave them lit until I go to bed. This ritual seems to help me let go and remember God is bracing them.

    • #5638

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      Something else that comes to mind with compassion fatigue is taking the time to process when I need to. I am a widow with no children so when I come home I have no one to process with. Now that is not to say I don’t have friends, I do however many of them do not want to hear about people who are dying. I do reach out to my team often. I find that when I don’t take time to process when I need to my ability to not carry it with me diminishes and I hang on to it much longer.

    • #5639

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      Dianna

      How welcoming to have your insightful response.

      I had a pretty big cry yesterday as I wrestled with the grief of having left the nursing home chaplaincy where things were familiar and predictable.  “What the $%^# did I do?”

      But your thoughts were reassuring. I hadn’t thought of the importance of taking a meal break.  Also your insights into what I am facing on this new learning curve are helpful.  Schedules will change on a regular but unpredictable basis, time in the car is a gift to recoup and refresh.

      Blessings,

      Wally

    • #5640

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      I appreciate everyone’s responses so far.  I want to reflect on a few of my take aways in a collective way.  I learn better that way.  But first Iwant to give you each a gold star as a way of saying thank you.  🙂 Blessings Wally
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    • #5641

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      Well that was a copy and paste fail.   I tried to delete it. sorry  Five Gold stars to you all.
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Paul, I agree with you. </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“leave work at work”. It’s not as easy as one would like to think.”</span></p>
      <b id=”docs-internal-guid-952e8294-7fff-018e-d34d-da1bcf14a55a” style=”font-weight: normal;”> </b>
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Angel,  Good counsel </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“…I try to take the time to honor the day, the people that I have provided support to, and the experiences that happened…”</span></p>
      <b style=”font-weight: normal;”> </b>
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Laura, </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”> “not getting in bed with patients….I feel it makes me more available to care and tend the spirit of the person with whom I am ministering.” </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”> Emotional distancing is important and challenging in our empathic roles.  Thanks for the reminder that it is a decion that needs to be made to be there wtihout being hooked.   I learned in my CPE days that the fixer in me was better left on mute mode. </span></p>
      <b style=”font-weight: normal;”> </b>
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Rick  </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“We are called to be responsive to our clients but not responsible for their outcomes.  I have to remind myself that I am not God. I see my role as a… gardener…. God does the healing.”</span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>  I love the image of a gardener.</span></p>
      <b style=”font-weight: normal;”> </b>
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Laura </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“I check in with patients over a period of time to see if they can name one thing for which to give thanks.  I find that is a silent way to help elevate the mood.” </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”> I remeber learning about the sense of awe when I was in CPE.  Does anyone remember the name of one of the pioneers in spiritual assesment.  He was before Dr. Fitchett (7 by 7) and had a list of 7 catergories of spirituality.  </span></p>
      <b style=”font-weight: normal;”> </b>
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Michael </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“From there I talk about God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”> Thank you for this reminder.  </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>The</span> <span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  -Psalm 34:18</span></p>
      <b style=”font-weight: normal;”> </b>
      <p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Peter,  </span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“…each time I leave the counseling room to leave not just my client’s problem there but to also to offer the matter  into God’s hands.”</span><span style=”font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>   We are allowed to be a vessel of God’s grace.  </span></p>

      <span style=”font-size: 14pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Diana  Thank you for this. </span><span style=”font-size: 14pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; font-style: italic; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>“…Something else that comes to mind with compassion fatigue is taking the time to process when I need to…”</span>

    • #5642

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      Not again. Grrr.

    • #5643

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      I am so sorry.  I typed it in a google sheet document.  I will try another waya nd see if it works.

      <span id=”E52″ class=”qowt-font2-TimesNewRoman” style=”display: inline; white-space: pre-wrap; color: #000000; font-size: 14pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’, Tinos, ‘Baskerville Old Face’, ‘Bell MT’, serif !important;”>Paul, I agree with you. </span><span id=”E53″ class=”qowt-font2-TimesNewRoman” style=”display: inline; white-space: pre-wrap; color: #000000; font-size: 14pt; font-style: italic; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’, Tinos, ‘Baskerville Old Face’, ‘Bell MT’, serif !important;”>“leave work at work”. It’s not as easy as one would like to think.”</span>

    • #5644

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      Nope.

      Paul,  I agree with you, “leave work at work…It’s not as easy as one would like to think.”  Esp. since I am on a huge learning curve with the charting required for Hospice visits.

    • #5645

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      Angel, Good Counsel.  “…I try and take time to honor the day, the people I have provided support to, and the experiences that have happened…”

      Laura, “…Not getting in bed with patients… I feel it makes me more available to care and tend the spirit of the person with whom I am ministering.”  Emotional distancing is important and challenging in our empathic roles.  Thanks for the reminder that it is a decision that needs to be made to be there without being hooked.  I learned during my CPE days that the fixer in me was better left on mute.

       

    • #5646

      Wally Plock
      Participant
      @wemajh

      Rick,  “…We are called to be responsive to our clients but not responsible for their out comes. I have to remind myself that I am not God.  I see my role as a gardener…God does the healing…”  I love the image of a gardener.

      Laura, I check in with patients over a period of time to see if they can name one thing for which to give thanks.  I find that is a silent way to help elevate the mood.”  I remember learning about Paul Pruyser in CPE and his awareness of the Holy (awe).

       

      Michael, From there I talk about God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,”  Thank you for this reminder.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm: 34:18

       

      Peter,  “..each time I leave the counselling room to leave not just my client’s problem there but to also offer the matter into God’s hands.”   We are allowed to be a vessel of God’s grace and was stated earlier, we are not God.

      Diana, thank you for this “…Something else that comes to mind with compassion fatigue is taking the time to process when I need to…”

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

    • #5654

      Laura Broadwater
      Participant
      @Laura

      Diana, that is beautiful.  I used to teach children’s church.  When the candles were snuffed, I would teach the children just like the smoke goes everywhere and we cannot see it, God is everywhere.  I like imaging your prayers waft up to God along with that smoke as each candle rests from its vigil.  Thank you!  Laura

    • #5655

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      Rick,
      I like the image of a mid-wife or gardener and to remember God does the healing. However that takes place. Dianna

    • #5656

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      Carol,
      I really felt your comment about your home life is sometimes more stressful that your work life. Caring for an elderly parent is not easy. I have many friends who are doing just that. Some of them say actually going to work is easier. Lifting up the light for you.

    • #5657

      Dianna Cox
      Participant
      @diancox

      It seems to me that our current world and being in health care is producing some fatigue at least with all the news stories. Everyday there is not only the news stories about the virus, there are the daily news updated from our employers. I work for Kaiser and each day there is something I need to read or another training I need to participate in or a new way I need to see patients. I find it is adding to the stress level for all of us. Are the rest of you experiencing this as well?

    • #5658

      Paul C. Edwards
      Participant
      @pedwards

      Hello all:-

      I’ve always been thankful for the richness of these seminars and it’s always such a blessing to participate in the forums.

      I’ve one more bit to add on the “leaving work at work bit”. I suppose I have to clarify. As the de facto “big cheese” of the department, (the Director was never replaced when she left about 12 years ago) and everything was thrown on me. I have over 20 volunteers (a mix of Roman Catholic Eucharistic Ministers and others); two weekends-only chaplains (so I can be off-call on weekends); a part-time secretary and priest-help from the Diocese. I am in charge of the schedules, the time-sheets, the budget. When I am not “physically there” and anything goes wrong or someone is unsure of something or cannot get a hold of someone (usually the priest), I get a call.

      While I am able to leave the stories and the traumatic events where they need to be – in the hands of God, I struggle with the need for folks to track me down at dinner/on my days off (and I do plan these) for stuff that really belongs in someone else’s hands or something that is not an emergency and can certainly wait until I return.

      Take this past Saturday, for example. My weekend coverage was on-call. I was not! They were having difficulty connecting with the priest. That’s a normal scenario, despite the fact that we have two options for priest coverage for the weekends. Instead of calling the on-call fellow, to see if he could meet the needs of this Catholic family/patient (if they were willing to have him come in) they interrupted my solitude and page me. I redirected them; told them to follow the schedule and protocol, then called my colleague and directed him to see if the Catholic family would have him come in, considering the lack of response from the priest coverage.

      That’s what I mean by not being able to “leave work, at work”. No matter what I do. No matter how often I say it. No matter how well I plan, folks always seem to not realize that I need not to be there when I’m not there.

      We now live in a world where folks want to have every possible means to contact you. Your home and cell phones; giving you the ability to remote-in to check e-mail, work-related social media accounts, etc. While I see some value in information-dissemination, etc., via those means, the issue of boundaries is a real thing for me. That’s what makes my situation so intense (in my mind, anyway).

      So, apart from my pager, only the administrator I report to has other options to contact me when I am not in the facility, and I have limited that, for fear my “away-time” is intruded upon. Those are the boundaries I’ve set. Some folks are pleased I’ve chosen to do that, but……oh well!

      I don’t know about your individual situations, but establishing good boundaries seem to be a good way to have the opportunity to recharge and stave off both compassion fatigue and burnout. Taking time away is not the issue for me. Leaving the stories behind, etc. is not the issue. Occasionally, I’ve simply turned the pager off so no one can reach me when I’m off, forcing them to follow the protocols in place. Of course I have had to take the heat for whatever didn’t happen because I was not there to fix it and someone lazily tried to reach me and could get  a hold of me!

      Some weeks are good and others are not so good. My facility has a habit of being overly dramatic, cancelling vacations and doing the “Chicken Licken” thing when it’s unwarranted. With a serious event as this current COVID-19, one can only imagine what approach they’ll take. I’ve scheduled some time off and it’s already approved, but who knows?

      Being the fiscally prudent folks that they are, we have no week-day (non-Catholic) coverage when I’m off. They will only pay for weekend non-Catholic coverage. They expect local clergy to meet the needs of their parishioners in those situations. Those without established connections are toast when I’m off on a weekday. My weekend coverage have other commitments during the week, but have said they wouldn’t mind filling in, but they would not be compensated for their time. That’s something of an ethical concern for me.

      I’ll stop here. I’ve said more than enough. Now you know why I chose to take this course.

       

    • #5659

      CAshworth
      Participant
      @CAshworth

      Dianna, yes the constant updates about the virus are making me tired.  I understand that we need to be vigilant, but every time there is a new case, do we really need to be notified?  And then, what I think is worse, is the constant posts on facebook, sometimes with “fake” news, or conspiracy theories, or all kinds of things which just raise everyone’s stress level.  I keep trying to say, be practical, do what is healthy, and then enjoy your life.

    • #5660

      CAshworth
      Participant
      @CAshworth

      It’s interesting to me that I can maintain my compassion level at work, with patients, families, and staff.  I don’t seem to have hit that wall, yet.  I love what I do.  But I find it harder to be compassionate with my father.  He has been experiencing some ongoing, but hopefully minor, health issues lately, and I want him to “suck it up.”  I had the same problem when my mother was alive, before she went on hospice.  Perhaps it was because I felt the need for them to be MY support (emotionally) and they couldn’t be.  On the other hand, as I think about it, it might be that I feel I should “fix” their problems, whereas I am fully aware that I cannot “fix” the problems of patients, visitors, or even staff.  Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

      I will say that a deeply supportive outside relationship has helped me lately.  When I feel overwhelmed I call this person and ask for prayer.  Generally, he lets me talk about it and I feel better.  I do know that he is praying also.

    • #5661

      CAshworth
      Participant
      @CAshworth

      Paul, I feel you with the “lone ranger” issues.  Even though I am part of a two-person day-shift team, we have two campuses, so we are each at separate campuses.  When the other chaplain (the Director, as it happens) is off, as in this week, I have to cover both campuses (about 8 miles apart), as well as be the resource for all things chaplaincy related in the hospital.  Actually, because I have been here longer than the Director, I am often seen as that resource anyhow.  We have also lost a number of our PRN’s recently, and I have had to start taking call MUCH more frequently than I would like.  It is hard to draw boundaries, especially when you do care about the people who are pushing up against them.

    • #5664

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Dear Friends,

      How ironic it is that we are having this conversation about Burnout, etc. in the midst of this pandemic!  Further, it is even more ironic and apropos that we are currently planning our summer symposium on Trauma-Informed Spiritual Care with several thought leaders around the country on the subject.  We here at Oates are working on a link that any spiritual caregiver can access free of charge to talk about the things that are happening in various settings around the country.  This is a result of many of you talking about how helpful it is to have those with whom you can debrief on a regular basis.  In fact, that seems to be a lot of what we do here at Oates, regardless of the topic.  We all know how important human connection and support is in creating some resiliency in our work.  One of the practices that we use in our Trauma Informed Resiliency Communities Project is to start every meeting whether online or face to face with the following questions to each other: 1) How are you feeling today? 2) What is your goal for the day?  3) Whose help do you need in working toward that goal?  It is amazing how connecting and centering that little process is.

      Tomorrow, we will post week 2 assignments.  We have chosen a research article and a video and a summary of John Sanford’s book titled Ministry Burnout.  We hope these two resources will enable us to continue our exploration of things we can do to become more resilient.  Week three we will focus more on what we can do for others to help them with awareness and talk about a couple of unusual but effective methods for reducing stress and burnout.

      Thank for your honest and thoughtful reflections.  It is helping me keep my light on.

      Rick @ Oates

      P.S.  As some of you have discovered, this platform isn’t friendly to the copy and paste method.  Just type your responses and don’t worry about typos, etc.

    • #5676

      Lesgonzales
      Participant
      @Lesgonzales

      It looks like I’m about a week late in starting the course… I received the notification regarding the new start date of the course, but as so many things in life, I lost track of the time and am barely getting to it now…  It’s my first course with the Oates Institute (I’m excited about it because I consider myself a lifelong learner) and my first “classroom” experience in a few years now, since graduating with a D.Min. in 2017.  I posted my introduction last night in the “Introductions” thread if anyone is interested in knowing more about me…

      My reflections regarding the first week’s assignments:  Well first off, I feel that I was forced to blaze through the material since I’m starting late, and it made me a little stressed in the process, but I think I got a good grasp of it… I definitely felt that the first presentation heavily leaned on the side of compassion fatigue, which I was not expecting, but was nevertheless appreciative of simply because it was material I was unfamiliar with…

      What I especially appreciated about Dr. Middleton’s presentation was the portion that described the differences between burnout and compassion fatigue… It was interesting to me to see the differences in the two.  Whereas burnout develops over time (and it thus takes longer to overcome), secondary trauma can occur suddenly and can be overcome just as (relatively speaking) quickly.

      Notwithstanding the detrimental effects of secondary trauma (there’s not doubt that it’s harmful), I see burnout as being much more harmful as it not only takes longer to treat, but it virtually “takes you out” of commission from serving in whatever capacity in which you find yourself… Having previously studied burnout, I know that it often renders the individual useless in their capacity to serve. Incidentally, Maslach (the leading researcher on Burnout) says that burnout in it’s truest form is the product of “helping professions.”  Though people like to throw the term around loosely to describe being worn out from virtually any activity, true burnout comes from helping others (in social work, pastoral ministry, etc.).

      I appreciated Dr. Middleton’s questions clarifying those who are more susceptible to compassion fatigue through the various risk factors.  It was interesting to me that the single most important risk factor to predicting an increased chance for experiencing compassion fatigue was having a personal history of trauma.  This is important to note because often times it is those individuals who have experienced past trauma who have the desire to go out and become a part of one of the “helping professions,” because they want to help others avoid or cope with similar circumstances to what they went through… Unfortunately, is is this same group that puts themselves at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue themselves… But as they say, “knowledge is power,” so “knowing” should help them to prepare mentally, emotionally, and strategically in order to properly avoid CF.

      From Dr. Underwood’s “Preventing Burnout in the Workplace,” piece, probably the best bit of gold (at least for me) was the section on individual strategies… Having worked with many people within the workplace, probably the single-most question I get asked is, “What can I do to stop feeling this way?” I thought these were some practical strategies to help lessen the impact and reduce stressors leading to burnout.

    • #5678

      Lesgonzales
      Participant
      @Lesgonzales

      Ok, so I was trying to edit my previous response and for whatever reason couldn’t figure out how to do so… I just wanted to point out that I think the way I worded my previous response with regards to secondary trauma, it seems like I minimized it, but that was not my intention… Even though I put a little disclaimer in there that I recognized it’s detrimental effects, I still feel like it came off as “not being a big deal.”  It is.  I think what I was trying to say is that I have studied much more on the topic of burnout, so I felt more comfortable talking about IT’s detrimental effects.  Trauma of any kind can obviously be terribly debilitating, and so it’s important that we recognize the difference between it and professional burnout.

    • #5679

      Lesgonzales
      Participant
      @Lesgonzales

      Hi Paul,

      As I was reading your post it was interesting to me because I would begin a thought process with regards to how you should handle your struggle with leaving work at work, and then almost immediately after thinking it, you would mention it yourself.  You are absolutely spot on that it comes down to boundaries and protocol.  I’m sorry that people around you don’t seem to honor or respect these boundaries and protocols set in place.  Having worked in places with similar situations (not of being on call, but of people not respecting boundaries, etc.), the ultimate solution typically has been to simply allow the process to work itself out.  That is, when you’re not on call, you’re not on call, so turn off the pager (as you indicated that you’ve done once or twice in the past).  At first you’ll get flack for it (because you’ve essentially trained them to be lazy and call you instead of following protocol), but eventually once they figure out that you’re serious and you won’t answer your calls, then they’ll stop complaining, they’ll stop giving you flack, and they’ll learn the “new” procedure (which of course isn’t a new procedure at all).  It is difficult, but something you have to do, because if something happens to you and your health, they’re going to have to learn to cope without you anyway…. Why not let them do it now that you’re relatively healthy and available?  As every flight attendant ever always says, “Please secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else with theirs.”

    • #5680

      Lesgonzales
      Participant
      @Lesgonzales

      Dianna, absolutely! I completely agree with you that the news produces fatigue… On my social media accounts, my newsfeeds are inundated with COVID-19 posts that are quite frankly draining, mentally and emotionally.

    • #5681

      Lesgonzales
      Participant
      @Lesgonzales

      Wally, thank you so much for those reminders from Scripture to not grow weary in doing good, but rather, to press on to our reward and to find our rest in Christ.  As professional chaplains, we are all a well educated bunch and I feel that all too often we tend to go to our academic training and experience first before going to the promises of Scripture.  While I obviously find much reward from my years of academic pursuit, there’s nothing like resting in the arms of Jesus to provide me with the comfort and relief I need.  Thank you.

    • #5685

      Mary M. Wrye
      Member
      @mmwrye

      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.
      Mary

    • #5688

      Paul C. Edwards
      Participant
      @pedwards

      Mary,

      God bless you! I can only imagine the joys that await you as you embark on that next chapter in the months to come.

      This might sound a bit strange, but I’m glad I have someone who completely understands my journey. In fact, that’s the beauty of these seminars – to encounter colleagues like yourself and the others who “get it”. Thank you for sharing our journeys!

      As Leslie pointed out, we just have to keep reinforcing the issue of boundaries. At this stage in ministry, I don’t worry much anymore about folks not being happy that I took a day off or even went on vacation. I can’t save the world, and I remind folks quite often these days, that even Jesus had a habit of “getting away from the craziness” so that he could retool and be re-energized to go back and handle rowdy crowds, people in need and needy people. If Jesus needed to “step away” for a minute – to rest, to pray, then who are we to feel we can keep on blazing trails without pausing? That, (I think), is why I’ve lasted this long in the kinds of hectic and draining ministry settings I’ve been in.

      Years ago, I was around a minister who is not unlike one of those that Leslie pointed out in his comments. He told us young seminarians at the time that ministers should not take vacations, because God does not go on vacation. I’m not sure if he was equating himself to God, though it sure seemed to me like that was what he was implying. Anyway, he was known (even as a younger man, compared to others in ministry at that time) to be lethargic and just plain tired all the time. He’s been that way for the past 30 years! Finally, last year, he retired! He’s done himself in and I’m really unsure how much longer he’ll be on this side of eternity. I’ve always used him as my example of what not to do.

      Don’t get me wrong. I take ministry seriously. I make no excuses and I am as committed as the next person, sacrificing even precious time with my family along the way – not because I wanted a good name, but because I take God’s calling seriously and the privilege of pastoral comfort very seriously. But…..as Leslie pointed out, I’m no good if I’m too tired to utter a coherent sentence or offer a thoughtful and intentionally relevant prayer or to be emotionally, physically and spiritually present.

      I’ve made self-care much more of a priority these days, than I used to do in my earlier years.

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