Verbatim No.: 1
Date of Admission:
Age: Early sixties
Marital Status: Unmarried
No. of Children: 0
Religious/Spiritual/ Philosophical Beliefs: Roman Catholic
Admitting Diagnosis: Problem with a knee
Visit no. 1
Length of visit:
Date of visit:
Focus: Help me see if I went outside the boundaries in my questions.
On my way into the hospital I prayed that God would make me an instrument of his love and care for the people I met in the hospital, so I was still in that frame of mind.
I was on my way out of the hospital after an out of hours call to look after a person with high levels of anxiety, a very lonely 95 year old, when a man stops me in the corridor and we end up going into the Chapel to talk.
He is a tidy man. He is about 5’8’’, slim build and little hair. He is not dressed as many patients; wearing knee length khaki trousers and a striped polo-neck shirt. Both in fair colours. He had light sandals on.
He didn’t carry himself well and it was obvious he had a heavy burden on his shoulders that evening.
He seemed nervous to start talking to me,
I am in a good space and able to listen to a disturbed soul at this time.
A. THE PERSON
Theological / Spiritual Analysis
He seems to have faith and praying really helped him.
His haven seems to be his family of origin and he seems to have a role there that gives his life a meaning.
Peter’s biggest spiritual concern is around the afterlife; whether there is one or if there is just a void.
It would be a simplification to think of Peter as Job, but in some ways he feels like a victim in all of what is going on in his head as he has done everything he could to maintain a simple and healthy lifestyle.
I would rather think of John the Baptist, who lived a holy and healthy life, unselfishly preparing the way for Jesus. He sacrificed a lot and in the end he lost his life because of it.
His ’s faith seems in some ways simple, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, especially as prayers and talk about the afterlife really calmed him. I don’t connect his ways with mine, but sometimes simplicity might be easier.
His’s issue is his fear of dying. I don’t know if he had told his family of origin about it, but his fear is deep and when I came along, he took the opportunity to talk to me.
His feeling of possible punishment is disturbing, because in his mind he has made some healthy life choices and is not to be punished.
I feel that my boldness to follow my instinct, helped Peter think differently about his life and health – not as a sacrifice, but a gift.
I am not sure his theological and psychological concepts correlate.
He has a close family and that is his support system. I think his parents have died, but siblings are close by as well as nieces and nephews.
I don’t know enough about Peter’s background, but he doesn’t seem to have friends or relationships with people outside the family, probably apart from work colleagues.
He is a lonely person and his guilt and worry may come from a religious experience, which makes him doubt his self worth.
I wonder about Peter’s self awareness and whether he is aware of his hidden side, according to Johari Window?
First of all I found it very strange that Peter was able to wonder around the hospital during a pandemic.
The fact that there were so many people in the Chapel outside a Service time was also worrying.
I make sure we are not too close to one another in the Chapel and also not totally by ourselves as that would be inappropriate.
B. THE CHAPLAIN
This conversation took place during a week when I was on “out-of-hours” duty for C of I patients in the Dublin Hospitals. It was when exiting after my third call out that week.
I recorded this visit, because of this question struck a cord with me. Death is the only certainty in our lives and it doesn’t scare me.
When approached, I felt I was in the right place at the right time and prepared to sit down and listen.
I felt compassion for his’s fear and possible situation, but I also wondered how realistic his fear was. I felt that he appreciated my presence and input, I was comfortable in the moment and my prayers for him were genuine.
It is only when writing this verbatim, that the thought enters my mind, that there is a possibility that Peter may not have been telling me his whole truth. In a sinister world I might have looked for signs of mental imbalance.
The only of my inputs that I questioned in C:17, was when I asked if he thought his healthy life choices could have prolonged his life so far. I am usually not this daring during my visits, as I don’t see it as my role to turn stones or change a person’s course as I did in this instance. I am not uncomfortable with it, but it did surprise me when it happened.
Had I kept going and not questioned the way he kept going, I don’t think he would have been able to get out of the spin he was in – so I am not sure it was the wrong thing to do, though risky. I do wonder how else I could have brought him out of the carousel.
What I learned about pastoral care visits was, that one never knows what is around the corner or what will be met, either on the wards or in the corridor. My prayer before entering the hospital gave me the fuel to be kind and also to follow my instincts.
From writing this verbatim, I have learned that I can never judge or assume. I am and want to be a hopeful presence in a person’s life-situation and that is my role.
I had the opportunity to be of support and minister to someone who felt alone and deserted in their fear and worry. They were in a vacuum closed on both ends.
I brought hope into a situation, where there was little or no hope. For that I am thankful.
I created a space for discussion about their fear and brought in a different focus to deal with it. My courage and openness was there for a reason that day.
I will not see him again, but there will be others like him and it is my intention to be prepared, humble and courageous when the next opportunity comes along, with eyes that see and ears that listen.