Category Archives: hospice

Self Nurture

From my Hospice class.


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Hand Blessing

hyndsWe had our hands blessed by one of our Hospice Chaplains. She led us in her prayer of blessing then came around and anointed each of our pairs of hands with oil. She leaned down to me, called me by name, expressed her sorrow for my loss, and asked for God’s blessing for and care over me in my volunteer work with Hospice.

I don’t think I’ve ever been physically blessed with oil. I don’t know. I’ve spent much of my belief life avoiding religious symbols, liturgy, art, clothing, music, and literature. I fully understand – completely and totally – that exercising religion is different than exercising faith. I suppose my fear (and for many in my tradition) has always been that somehow exercising religion would transcend the exercise of my faith in importance and this would end up being a bad thing. I think, however, that in all of my years, I have been so clinical and intentional in preserving the purity of my faith that I have, in fact, turned it into nothing more than another religion to be exercised. For quite a long time, I have felt bad about this.

I’m losing bubble here…

The blessing of hands was very emotional for me. It was beautiful and I wish that I had been blessing the hands of others over the years. It was meaningful, special, highly symbolic, and sincere.

It went something like this.

Blessed be the works of your hands, O Holy One.
Blessed be these hands that have touched life.
Blessed be these hands that have nurtured creativity.
Blessed be these hands that have held pain.
Blessed be these hands that have embraced with passion.
Blessed be these hands that have tended gardens.
Blessed be these hands that have closed in anger.
Blessed be these hands that have planted new seeds.
Blessed be these hands that have carried out endless tasks
as part of caring for our community.
Blessed be these hands that have reached out and been received.
Blessed be the hands that hold the promise of the future.
Blessed be the works of your hands, O Holy One.

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First Thoughts

puthI’ve started my Hospice training. I am overwhelmed by the compassion, knowledge, and insight of the staff who is leading us in our training. Several thoughts and observations.

1. Hospice fills the gap between what may be our natural reaction to end of life issues – fight or flight. Hospice desires to fill the gap with engagement.

2. Hospice is about providing non-anxious presence. This concept has been driven home to us as students many times even in the few days that we have been together. Of course, to be non-anxious we need to be trained and prepared as much as possible prior to meeting with the patient and the family. No two cases are ever exactly the same but the goal of Hospice is to not only minimize volunteer surprises, but to stay comfortably ahead of situations.

3. Chaplain Pam led a discussion on ‘honoring questions more than answers.’ Patients and their families often have many questions with few answers. Our task is not to provide answers as much as it is to calmly walk the end of life journey with the patient and family. We are trained to possibly reframe hope, and to honor and bring distinction to a patient as the journey is about to end.

4. Kairos care has to do with care that takes place during a special time, a time of transition, or a time of indeterminate length.

5. Our job is to listen. We were presented with the acronym WAIT – Why Am I Talking? Any time we talk in the presence of a patient or family, it needs to be intentional and constructive.

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