Being admitted to a hospital can be a disquieting experience. The reasons for our unease may include the pain or illness which caused the admission, plans that had to be canceled, worry about those at home, anxiety over what the symptoms might mean, potential financial burden, and so on.
The attention of health care professionals does much to address our physical condition and may even alleviate some of our anxieties.
Yet, while we are incapacitated, there is much which churns over in our minds and spirits as we consider the disruption to our normal lives.
The unease and stress does not help with the healing process.
Like all of my colleagues in faith communities, and other volunteers, a fair proportion of time is spent in hospitals visiting church members, and sometimes their family and friends, who are hospitalized for one reason or another. Occasionally, a patient in the next bed, or some one in the corridor will call out when they see a clergy person, a conversation will ensue, and we are always very happy to reach out and be present to anyone whatever their need.
Sadly, much of the time, little or no spiritual care is provided to, nor received by patients in hospitals. In our local hospitals, indeed most hospitals wherever you are, there is a service called ‘Spiritual Care.’
Hospital chaplains are part of the health care team and specialize in providing spiritual care to patients, family members, and also to hospital staff.
Quoting from the VIHA Spiritual Care Services brochure, “Chaplains serve people of all faiths, as well as people who do not have a religious affiliation.
A Chaplain has compassion for what you are going through; listens; respects your culture, traditions and beliefs; doesn’t judge you; offers words of hope, encouragement and comfort; keeps what you say confidential; will pray with you, and for you, if you ask; can help connect you with your own faith community.”
Respect for privacy and concern for personal preferences, mean that no assumptions will be made about your need for spiritual care, and services will not be offered without a request.
So, may I offer the following suggestions? If you or a loved one, find yourself admitted to a hospital, consider first that your restoration to wholeness extends beyond your body to mind and spirit — how you feel about yourself, your stresses and worries, will affect your physical healing.
Be assured if you ask to speak to a chaplain your own beliefs and convictions will be treated with the utmost of respect.
If you are a member of a particular faith community please ensure that they know where you are so that members may pray for you and visit as appropriate.
When we are in distress or feeling weak, the gentle presence of another human being can be most helpful.
They may listen, offer words of wisdom, read something inspiring or comforting, pray, or just be with you in silence.
Rev. Alan Naylor is at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Qualicum Beach