June 25, 2019 at 10:58 pm #4871
For our final week, we journey down the spectrum of palliative care toward those who are nearing the end of their life, entering into hospice care. The last two lessons focus more on this area.
I already mentioned the work of Harvey Chocinov with his focus on life review and legacy recordings. What other tools do you find most helpful in working with the dying.
June 30, 2019 at 11:38 am #4924
Just wanted to reflect on the last lessons. I love the books by Ira Byock, especially Dying Well and Best Care Possible. He states that dying well is more than symptom management – and that is where chaplains come in. I love the idea, which is not new to me, of providing for all the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, etc. I also have used and like Byock’s five tasks of dying – Forgive me, I forgive you, I love you, thank you, good-bye. I am not familiar with the go wish cards and wrote down the website to check it out. I also wanted to mention that our hospital uses the ELNEC classes to train nurses in end of life care. We sent a nurse to be trained as a trainer and hold bi-annual trainings to prepare our staff for this important time.
I will always be a proponent of excellent end of life care. Offering prayer, music, religious rituals, privacy, pain relief, and ministering to the families is so important as someone makes that last step. Offering all the time needed after a death is also important and helping with connections to funeral homes and the ME if necessary.
I also wanted to comment on the class as a whole. I am disappointed in the lack of rigourous discussion and reflection. I think I ended up being the only person in the class (perhaps). Anyway, it has been good reading and personal reflecting, and for that I am grateful.
July 1, 2019 at 3:34 pm #4925
Is anyone still out there other than Trish? My deepest apologies as I have been absent from the sight for the last several days! My work week last week was such that I had little time at my desk, less than expected, and my internet is out at home! So, I have been unable to respond and initiate conversation as I normally would.
In response to Trish–yes, I, too, like and utilize the work of Byock and feel that one of THE most important things I can do as a chaplain is to help facilitate these conversations if I do not hear patients and family members saying those important words to one another. I remember one woman who said to me after I had introduced her to those phrases, that she and her husband had a beautiful conversation “and I told him that if we’d had that conversation 40 years ago, we’d have had a much better life together.”
Also, our organizations participates in ELNEC training also. I just helped with one a couple weeks ago. It can be a good learning tool.
Another important part of end of life chaplaincy, is the use of ritual to help contain all the emotion, and words that need to be said. What rituals have others found to be helpful?
July 2, 2019 at 9:35 am #4926
Today we come to a close of our exploration of spirituality and palliative care. I regret that we have had so little participation, and that my own attempts to spark conversation was lower than usual. I hope you found the material useful in your work with those who are facing illness and perhaps death. I’d like to recommend that you check out the work of Dr. Kathleen Rusnak, particularly her book Because You’ve Never Died Before.
Another book, one that our chaplains find very helpful, is Interfaith Minister Handbook: Prayers, Reading & Other Sources for Pastoral Settings by Matt Sanders.
I find that walking with the dying is one of the most sacred and fulfilling experiences of my life. I remember a patient once saying to me, “dying is such tedious business.” We never could get at exactly what as tedious for her, but I think the role of a chaplain is to help take some of that away. Abraham Joshua Heschel says we should “live our lives as works of art.” That’s what I think the chaplain is for–to help people do that as they face illness and possibly dying.
Thank you for all you do to help people live well in the midst of serious illness. May you keep doing that even as you advocate with your larger organizations.
July 2, 2019 at 10:28 am #4927
Thanks for facilitating. I know that can be a hard role as I do it at times myself. Good content, just poor participation. I have asked Rick if he would consider going back to an email platform. I seemed to get better response that way. The book by Rusnak sounds good – will check it out.
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