In honor of Spiritual Care Week, we offer this perspective from a Gilchrist hospice chaplain.
I left a patient’s room laughing the other day. She and I laughed throughout the visit. She was smart, with a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way. Not only did we spar with wit, we talked about her two daughters.
One week after my visit, she suffered a stroke. She is now in Gilchrist’s inpatient hospice unit and will not be with us much longer. When I walked into her inpatient room, her daughters and I made an instant connection. Both said my visits with their mom had made her so happy and that she loved me. They told me some of the ways I had made their mom laugh, and so we laughed again.
There is truth to the old proverb “Laughter is the best medicine.” A good sense of humor is healthy for the heart, emotional health and spirit. As a chaplain who is a member of an awesome hospice team, I am encouraged to bring my form of ‘medicine’ to each patient. My medicine is not a pill or syringe. It’s not usually about what I am able to accomplish for the patient and family either.
My medicine is about connection. It’s about being fully present until one of us is no longer able. It’s a healing balm of presence, listening deeply and, together, feeling every emotion that needs to be expressed—anger, sadness, tears and, when we are fortunate, laughter.
Have you heard the one about the rabbi, the priest, the pastor and the imam? These are the formal titles of chaplains who work at Gilchrist. Spiritual care is thriving at Gilchrist, with 21 chaplains on staff, representing over eight different faith groups.
Our chaplains are part of an interdisciplinary team that provides care and support for patients and their families. They provide non-denominational spiritual support and counseling based on an individual’s spiritual or religious beliefs, practices and needs. They will listen to concerns and offer prayers, if requested. Chaplains can help families reflect on what is most meaningful and offer support in healing relationships. Our hospice chaplains will also work with a family’s personal clergy and congregation, if requested.
To learn more about Gilchrist’s Hospice Care program, visit gilchristcares.org/hospice.