This week is spiritual Care Week/Pastoral Care Week. The first pastoral Care week was held in October 1985. The goals of this amazing observance week are : celebrate the education for and practice of spiritual care through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling. To interpret and promote pastoral care. To honor and celebrate all practitioners of pastoral care. To express appreciation to institutions and their staff who support pastoral care ministries. To publicize the work of pastoral care organizations affiliated with COMISS. To promote continuing education for clergy, laity, and institutional employees regarding the value of pastoral care.
So often, especially in hospice people don’t truly understand what Hospice chaplains do. Often people think that they just come and pray with or for the patient. They do so much more than that. They help patients spiritually prepare for the need of life – remember spirituality goes beyond the religious. They help ensure that no patient dies alone, they improve a patient’s sense of overall comfort and wellbeing. They encourage helpful religious coping practices. They help respond to the spiritual distress of families, they help reinforce the importance of spiritual coping during the dying process, they help provide caregivers with bereavement and anticipatory grief, they help caregivers reconcile spiritual grievances and respond to spiritual crises, they help encourage a positive and constructive flow of communication. Chaplains help support the hospice team, they also help the team to better understand a patient’s spiritual and cultural beliefs. They often help with funeral and memorial planning. They provide spiritual healing in many ways, from legacy/life review to music, to prayer and devotion, sometimes it includes ritual and imagery, and sometimes they just listen and are present in the patient or caregiver’s needs.
Namaste is incredibly lucky, we have two very compassionate and loving Chaplains on our team. They meet the patients where they are and provide so much to each and every one of them. Their work is incredibly important and life-changing but is often misunderstood due to the misconceptions around the work they do.
Happy Spiritual/Pastoral Care Week to not just Ed and Fred, our amazing chaplains but to all the spiritual/pastoral professionals out there. The work you do is incredibly special and the world is so lucky to have you.