Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Prayer for All Who Work in Hospice

NB: This morning is our IDT (Interdisciplinary Team) Meeting. The whole team - doctors, nurse/case managers, nurse practitioners, social workers, chaplains, volunteer coordinator, bereavement coordinator and medical records personnel review every patient's chart, share ideas for (and, sometimes, frustrations about) patient care, and certify that they are eligible for hospice under Medicare guidelines.

It is my privilege and joy to develop a meditation for the team to begin our meeting. The challenge of Hospice chaplaincy - especially with a team made up of widely diverse religious practices and expressions - is to offer meditations and prayers that are spiritual and religious and faithful but not reflective of any one spirituality, religion or faith.

The danger, I've found, is to reduce everything to spiritual pablum - the religious equivalent of sitting in a circle, eating Twinkies and singing Kumbaya.

I always draw inspiration from the nurses and nurse's aides (CNAs) who have more on their plate than they can say grace over and yet always make room for more. Sometimes they do that with grace and style and other times . . .  well, they are, after all, human.

So, I bundled up all the sayings I have heard them say, all the words of encouragement they post on the staff refrigerator or as the tag on their emails or FaceBook pages, along with a few of the lessons I've learned, and turned them into a prayer:

A Prayer for All Who Work in Hospice

May the passion you have for life fire the compassion you have for others.

May you know that when you do small things with great love you change lives.

May the blessings you receive mean more than the hours you work.

May you remember to keep both feet on the ground while tending to those who have one foot in heaven.

May you be grateful that your daily encounter with death and dying brings you a deeper appreciation of life and living.

May you never lose sight of the fact that it’s not the length but the depth of life that really matters.

May your work be grounded in the knowledge that grief is the emotional, physical and spiritual price you pay for the priceless gift of love, and that the only cure for grief is grieving.

May you know that while no one may build a monument in your name, the way you make your mark in this life is by erasing the frown on someone’s brow.

And, may you start each day remembering the last words spoken by Steve Jobs before he died:  “Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!”



8thday said...

This is truly beautiful. My youngest daughter recently began working in a hospital and has been assigned to the stroke unit. She is wrestling with the amount of suffering and death she sees. I am sending her this prayer. I think it will help her put things in perspective. Thank you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, 8th Day. It's a privilege to do this work.

Compassus Hospice Chaplain, Peter Tripp DD said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful prayer. I have shared it with many others working with Hospice

Susan Talbott said...

New to the Hospice genre of nursing. Leaving 20+ years as an operating Room nurse. Appreciating this blog!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the prayer! I am with Spiritual Care with Wilshire Hospice in San Luis Obispo, CA. I am going to share your prayer with our IDT and will give you a "shout out". - Thank you!! Mike Sparrow

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Mike. I'm glad you found this helpful. God bless.

Unknown said...

I had the opportunity to share with hospice staff on our morning huddle call. It was appreciated.