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Monday, April 30, 2007
What I have learned as a Hospice Chaplain - # 1
I have now been a hospice chaplain for a year. I thought it would be nice to commemorate this anniversary to mention some of things I have learned over the last year. When I say "learned", I fully understand that learning is continual and I haven't arrived at "final knowledge". With that said, I will spend a few posts (not sure how many) reflecting on some lessons gained.

Death is alien to Humanity.
It doesn't matter what the situation, when a person dies there is a level of awkwardness that can be directly linked to the presence of death. Death is foriegn to the human make up because God didn't make humans to die. Death came from the fall of man in the garden and has covered everything like a dense fog. Death is inevitable for all of us, yet in the presence of a dying individual, deep down it feels like something isn't right or unnatural.

Even for Christians, who have the hope of resurrection, death, although grace filled, still seems to be strange and an interruption of the divine cycle. I have seen those of faith die with courage and hope, yet there is still a feeling that something isn't as it should be.

I just left a family whose loved one died. The deceased PT was lying in his bed, in a nursing home facility, surrounded by a large loving family. Grief laid heavy in that room. The family comforted each other with stories of Grandpa's life, and reminders of the goodness of God. Their grandfather had been sick for a long time, providing many years for the family to prepare for this, yet it still felt out of place.

I have learned to live beside and with mourning people, feeling more comfortable with the uncomfort of grief. Yet, I don't believe I will ever feel comfortable with death. That sounds funny I am sure, coming from a hospice chaplain, but I think it is not possible to feel comfortable with death, for it is an intruder, a curse, something that doesn't belong.

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posted by Ben Thomas @ 3:04 PM  
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