It had taken me a long time to get through Frank’s* door. He had cared for his brother at his home until his symptoms became unmanageable and he had to go to a skilled nursing facility. He wasn’t on service for long though, as after his admission he died within a short time. Prior to this, we hadn’t had much contact with Frank. He wasn’t making medical decisions for his brother, and he often came across as gruff and reserved over the phone. He had declined a chaplain for support as well as our social worker. However, after the death our staff raised concerns about Frank, given how close he and his brother were and his own health problems.Continue reading
“Dying is very lonely”
“Helen” is an elderly woman who lives in one of the nicer nursing homes in my area. She had an extremely difficult life growing up, which caused her to deal with addiction and its after-effects for many years. While she has remained a staunch Catholic, the “big book” of Alcoholics Anonymous holds a place in her heart as well. Helen is quite crippled and is in bed most of the time. While this leaves her rather isolated, whenever she is up she becomes quite anxious and often asks to be put back in bed. She is in almost constant pain from arthritis, which aggravates her anxiety, which in turn aggravates her pain. However, she is remarkably pleasant to visit. She treasures her Catholic faith, watching Mass every day and often talking about her faith with me.
On a recent visit, as I was leaving, she called out “thank you so much for coming, dying is very lonely.” This statement struck my heart, as it’s the most direct someone has ever been about their own dying experience.Continue reading
Beyond Certification: Looking At the Future of Chaplaincy
From time to time I’ve been asked “so how do I become a Chaplain?”. While I usually answer with a laundry list of things to do to prepare, train and ultimately become certified, the real answer is – it depends. It depends not only on what you do to prepare to be a chaplain but also on what employers expect from a Chaplain. And sometimes these two areas are quite different from each other.Continue reading
Guest Post: 6 Valuable Ways to Support Veterans In Your Community
Guest Writer: Rhonda Underhill
Military veterans made an honorable choice when they joined the service, and sometimes readjusting to civilian life after serving can be difficult. Whether you have a veteran close to you or want to honor veterans in your community, there are plenty of ways to help someone who needs it. From small but impactful gestures like assisting them in reconnecting with loved ones to bigger ones like helping them find a home, The Chaplain’s Report shares six valuable ways to support a veteran in your community.Continue reading
Where We Are: COVID-19 Update
So it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Many of us working in healthcare have been strained to say the least. Even if we aren’t dealing directly with patients with the coronavirus or their families, the rapidly changing and always dramatic day-to-day events in our country and around the world are more than enough for anyone to handle.
Rather than post an essay or some helpful “how-to-cope” stuff, I’m just going to write. Which is a way of coping in itself. Pardon any possible incoherence. Continue reading
Chaplaincy Today Isn’t Chaplaincy Yesterday: Chaplaincy in COVID-19
Our CPSP chapter met by Zoom last evening and it was clear that we all needed to vent. The past few weeks have been quite tumultuous throughout the world, our country, our county and our workplaces. Where we would usually brought cases to discuss and receive feedback, we found ourselves becoming the cases to present. Many felt lost. One member who had just taken a new paid position was now told to stay home because she was in a high risk population. Another member was caring for an ill husband and struggled with the inability to do what he felt such a strong call to do. Another member was constantly bombarded with work calls during the meeting. One member, a Rabbi, spoke of trying to figure out how to have a Passover Seder via Zoom (which she called a “Zeder” – I laughed for about 5 minutes). Continue reading
Guest Post: In Defense of Selfies, by Dom Fuccillo
At the dawn of social media, friends sent me a lot of selfies and pet photos. Nice. Now they add a few words to them or call, and I feel better in touch. You may have had a similar experience.
This presumed march from self to thou may teach us something about our field: the value of reaching out more thoroughly and often to colleagues and chaplains-in-training. This reaching out can be personal, as with maturing social media or mentoring in the old style of my generation; formal, as in speaking or writing; and strong or subtly persuading others to tell what they have learned or felt during chaplaincy. Continue reading
Relating Faith and Psychology From the Pulpit: Part 1
Mental health is a major concern in the United States, and Christian books concerning depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are common bestsellers. Yet the majority of pastors rarely or never discuss it on Sunday mornings.
A 2018 study by Lifeway research brought the issue of how mental health is addressed in churches to light. The study found that although 66% of pastors rarely discussed mental health issues from the pulpit, over half have counseled someone with an acute mental illness, and ¾ of those surveyed knew someone personally who suffered from clinical depression. The study found that almost a quarter of pastors surveyed struggled with mental illness themselves. If this is the case, why aren’t pastors speaking about this more often? Continue reading
Trauma and Boundaries: Membranes, Walls and Drawbridges
I recently attended a conference on trauma and grief along with members of my CPSP chapter. The impetus for the event was the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which was where our group met where some members were leaders.
While it wasn’t discussed, I realized that one of the things that makes traumatic grief so painful is that those who are going through it are so vulnerable to continued pain. Our speaker talked about how triggering events, images and even sounds can bring trauma back to the surface even years after. Some participants found that even discussing traumatic grief was difficult for them in the context we were in and had to leave the room to gather themselves. Continue reading
The Political Chaplain
I have a game at home called “We Didn’t Playtest This At All”. It’s a really fun game (to some at least) based on unique cards that people play during the game that change the rules of the game as it’s played. For example, one card simply says “You Win” and when you play that card, you win (but only if you’re a girl in one case). Unless someone has the card that allows them to make someone lose whenever that person just won (but they also lose). My favorite card though is called “Politics”. When you play that card you are told to say “everything is ruined!”, then all players turn in all their cards and pick new ones. Because, as we know, politics ruins everything. Continue reading