Skip to comments.Death of the Hospice Chaplain Profession?
Posted on 02/25/2016 2:12:09 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o
Off the record, a colleague of mine with decades of hospice experience predicted to me that the government would eventually get rid of the requirement that hospices hire chaplains. This particularly caught me off guard because I had just procured such a position with Center for Hope Hospice in Elizabeth, NJ. He elaborated that "the government wants to save money. They say America is becoming more secularized anyway, and so chaplains aren't needed all that much."
Not that my shiny new job offer was about to vanish and "go gentle into that good night," but I was nettled by the government's alleged viewpoint. We are the lonely profession, wanting to weep with frustration that "nobody understands us!" Picture yourself as a patient. When a health professional comes to you, it is usually centered around some task to perform, some agenda on their part. To give you meds. To ask you about family dynamics. To find out your food preferences. When a chaplain appears, if they are doing their job well, they are doing no particular job. As agendaless as possible, they wait to see whatever it is you care to bring to the fore, anything from "I don't want to see a chaplain" to "This is what my life has been about" to "Why am I still here?" to "I'm ready to let go but my daughter isn't" to simply sharing some spiritually-charged quiet as rain pelts the bedroom window and a heater clangs out its protest.
The government, with plenty of agendas to go around, shies away from moments that elude definition... and people that elude definition, well, you know, such as chaplains.
Meanwhile chaplain organizations exhort chaplains to perform research that proves that having us as part of the healthcare team makes for better health care "outcomes." This is a fear reaction, that yes, chaplains might very well be dispensed with. We better prove that our encounters have a quantifiable effect. Too bad that society cannot take it on faith that some ineffable good arises out of an "I-Thou" relationship between the patient and the chaplain.
And secularization? That is beside the point. It is a rare offer when someone is willing to cede some of their comfortable space to you and dwell in your land of suffering no matter how brief the sojourn.
Chaplain Karen Kaplan is an old friend of mine. She raises questions which have occurred to me, too, as I occasionally sit with dying vets at the VA as part of a volunteer outreach called "No Veteran Dies Alone."
We can't "quantify" why we're there.
But it seems one of the most important things a person can do: to be a witness for the Lord and Giver of Life: hallowing Life's natural beginnings and its natural end ... and its eternal destination. And helping make peaceful the transition between this world and the World to Come.
I'm not looking for doctrinal debate here. I'm looking for your experiences and your wisdom.
Here's Karen's contact info: email firstname.lastname@example.org and her Twitter name is @chaplainkkaplan
Her book: Encountering the Edge
That’s because they are being mandated into universalist oblivion where they are nothing more than grief counselors for the state. Many of them think it is actually appropriate due to years of PC abuse. Similar spot most of military chaplains are in.
“Chaplain Karen Kaplan”
Well, a woman preacher means a liberal denomination by definition. So it’s probably going to be more pretty words than spiritual hope.
The Obama attack on organized and even unorganized Christianity marches on.
(Forgive me if I am wrong, Karen, if you're reading this. Enlighten us.)
However, we live in a world where even a "moment of silence" will be, and has been, construed as a concession to the spiritual life, and hence an Establishment of Religion.
It's been banned in schools!
I do believe that a modest and diffident believer, even an agnostic of sorts, could be a spiritually valuable friend of a dying person, if he or she turns off the TV on the wall, turns off the imbecilic gibber and ping of all the buzzing, beeping, futilely invasive equipment, makes space for the mystery of personhood, and guards where appropriate a full and blessed --- and by no means empty --- silence.
Yeah, those Pentecostals and Holiness folks are really liberal.
I’d agree with that.
True enough. It seems that the Protestant churches who hire female chaplains DO tend to be liberal.
I THINK that the Catholic Church will stand its ground on following the age-old Orthodox Jewish tradition of male priests.
Not just protestant - same with Judaism.
As for Rome, no telling what this Pope might do.
Just more of the government’s move to cut funding for the elderly - when politicians were pushing to pass Medicare it was all about easing the worries of the elderly and making sure they had the care they had in their twilight years - now years later when they got what they wanted and the bills are coming due, it’s why are we spending so much money on the old, they’re going to be dead in a few years anyhow - let’s spend it somewhere else....
"My goodness; there are lots of replies. I leave any responses, if you wish, to you. Main point in response I think is to say that the chaplain is to respect the beliefs of the patient, and help that patient articulate those beliefs as a way to help with coping with what is happening. A good chaplain does not bring in their own beliefs. We help persons tell their stories, and as they are telling them, they increase in their own self-understanding and growth simply through the telling and being heard.'I happen to differ with Rabbi Kaplan on this: I do think chaplains are right to "bring in their own beliefs," because how can we not, without dehumanizing ourselves? And without starving, so to speak, the person who hungers to hear His sacred Name?
If the dying erson is conscious and has indicated he does not want a chaplain, or does not want YOUR kind of chaplain, that is of course a different story.
But here I also wish to reiterate my conviction that anyone, "chaplain" or not, who simply even acknowledges that the person approaching death is a spiritual person who has spiritual needs, is a net help to that person.
Christ said, "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek and ye shall find; knock and the door shall be opened unto you."
I firmly believe those words.
And so I believe that anyone who gives us space or time or encouragement to ask, seek and knock, is --- whether they know anything about it not --- a help to our salvation.
Even a warm, hand-held silence gives the opportunity for the dying person to hear Him say: "My child, listen to Me." Otherwise, there's just the Absurd, the Void: morphine and get outta here.
I see that sarcasm is lost on you.
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