The Role of a Hospice Chaplain
We are all multifaceted beings with different needs. Attending physicians and caretakers tend to our physical health. Social workers can tend to our mental and emotional health. These are both essential members of a hospice care team. Just as these experienced professionals handle their respective specialties, so too does a hospice chaplain tend to the spiritual and many emotional needs of those receiving hospice care.
Navigating a Spiritual Journey
Towards the end of life, one's spiritual health is a crucial facet of their overall wellbeing. For some, the process of dying can be a confusing part of life that provokes a good deal of anxiety, depression, and even anger. Just as they have in life, many will look to spiritual practices, concepts, and specialists to help quell turbulent emotions and prepare them for death. Hospice chaplains help these patients to navigate their spiritual journey.
Who are Hospice Chaplains?
A hospice chaplain is typically a spiritual cleric of sorts employed by the hospice organization. This person is highly trained and experienced in helping those in hospice care and their families to achieve spiritual peace throughout the dying process. They can provide this peace and comfort by helping to answer questions, providing helpful spiritual wisdom to ease the mind and spirit of the patient by listening. Other times, a hospice chaplain best serves just by being silently present.
Hospice chaplains may be of a specific religious denomination, though most will have an interfaith background to assist patients of varying religious paths. All hospice chaplains are specially trained and experienced in unique challenges and concerns of the dying. Some find they may even be of more comfort to them than their regular chosen clerics.
Who Receives the Care of Hospice Chaplains?
Any hospice patient can request the consultation of a hospice chaplain. Some patients will already have a closer relationship with a non-hospice chaplain, such as a family priest, rabbi, minister, or imam — and may opt to visit with them instead. Other patients may not want any form of spiritual guide, instead opting for the spiritual care of friends and family. Regardless of a patient's religious affiliation or beliefs, hospice chaplains of any background will respect their faith and provide any support within their abilities.
Hospice Chaplains Provide Companionship
There are, unfortunately, some in hospice care with very few or no companions to accompany them on their departure. For these individuals, hospice chaplains fill in the crucial role of companion towards the end of life. Chaplains may also play an essential part in filling in any gap between the patient and the care of hospice caretakers and doctors — ensuring that they leave this world accompanied by a loving and compassionate friend.
How Hospice Chaplains Help Families
The dying process can be emotionally and spiritually difficult for close family and friends. Hospice chaplains also assist those close to hospice patients before, during, and even after the death of a loved one. When needed, family members or companions can consult hospice chaplains long after the death of their loved one to assist them while grieving. For most families, their loved one’s hospice chaplain has a precious place in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
Meet Our Chaplains
If you or a loved one have any questions about the role of a hospice chaplain, you're welcome to reach out to us. If you're looking for an experienced and compassionate hospice care organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we'd love to introduce you to our experienced hospice chaplains.