why_would_i_need_a_chaplain__mhj_july_2006

Why would I need a Chaplain?

By Vickie Yoder

If you have ever found a situation, illness, or a number of life’s pressures overwhelming; you could have benefited from a Chaplain.  We assist patients and families to help themselves by teaching them to cope and by helping them to live their life as fully and comfortably as possible.

When facing a terminal illness, it can be a time of real and deeply felt spiritual crisis.  It is a time of reflection, when difficult questions are considered—questions that often have no easy or simple answers.  The patient asks, “Why me?” “Is this fair?”  “What is really beyond this life?” What will happen when and after I die?”

The family struggles to find some comforting response, but often is unable to give the solace the patient so desperately needs.  This is when the Chaplain can help.  Chaplains are trained professionals, and help the patients, family, staff, and communities explore spiritual issues.

We respond with care and support, and listen to the concerns of all those involved, and provide as much help as the patient and the family needs and desires.  Spiritual care is an integral part of the interdisciplinary care that patients receive in today’s hospital environment, assisted living, or nursing care facilities.

Chaplains provide services in addition to the patient’s or family’s own clergy.  Their primary goal is to help all involved handle the final transition, or crisis with peace of mind.  We are asked to help identify spiritual concerns affecting the patient and family and suggest a program of spiritual growth.  We listen and work with them to find a resolution to spiritual concerns, which may lie behind their mental and emotional anguish.

Along with communion, anointing of the sick, baptisms, weddings, funerals, we must not negate the ministry of presence, which is very valuable.  Materials provided for spiritual growth and educational resources are also made available such as Bibles, Prayer Cards, music, videos, DVD’s, and visual imagery.  When assisting the patient’ and family’s minister, as needed, we ensure quality care which is coordinated with all involved caregivers.

For those without a local church affiliation or spiritual community, we may link them to an appropriate clergy or others with similar beliefs. We also offer prayer support at the bedside or over the phone.  We lead patient and family devotional moments, meditations, scripture readings, rituals and grief support counseling.

A Chaplain is an individual willing to step in your circle of pain; offering spiritual intervention in a confidential and safe setting; sharing your times of joy and sorrow.  May God Bless each of you as you continue your journey!