Unlike much of what I post, the following will be some of my own random thoughts on what I do.
I haven’t heard this question as often as I used to, but I recall countless families whom I have cared for in my work as a hospice chaplain asking, “But isn’t it depressing?” Clearly, the sense people had was that it would be impossible to be around death and dying on a daily basis without being emotionally affected in the negative. To be around death can’t be anything but depressing. I would be lying if I denied that their is much pain and sadness I feel in caring for and being present with people on their journeys to what lies after this life ends. As such, I acknowledge the sadness with the people we care for, as to deny it would be to deny the humanness of caring for them.
In the midst of the sadness of experiencing death daily, there is so much more to it. We who work in professions that regularly encounter human suffering will often tell you that to be with someone, supporting them through the trauma and pain is a true blessing. The satisfaction of knowing that what I do is more than just a profession offsets the sadness I often feel. Just yesterday, someone came up to me and thanked me for supporting him in caring for his mother on hospice well over a year ago. Honestly, this expression of gratitude made my day and gave me the energy to support others.
As I look back on all the people I have cared for as part of my hospice work, I find many of them are missed, given the time spent and the connections made. We learn about so many different people from all different walks of life, in their most vulnerable states. Being a chaplain, being seen as a person accompanying people on this phase of their life’s journey, is truly an inspiration and blessing.