CampCare is a grief support camp for children and teens who have lost a loved one. This past summer, campers experienced camp in very meaningful ways and created memories that they will carry with them always. These experiences have had a profound influence on our campers.
The patient's breathing was labored and his forehead was warm and clammy when I arrived. His pulse was present, but irregular and quick. He opened his eyes widely and wildly in response to having a pulse ox placed on his finger. The facility staff was trying to address his respiratory distress, and the hospice RN came in to help. Not far behind the nurse was one of the patient's children. Through all of this, the musical prescription began—first a cappella, and then, after the patient's son arrived, the harp and voice together helped ease the patient's respirations.
Many times when I see families that have come togethter to care for their loved one, they do so out of love. Also significant, is that the loved one that they are caring for feels like they are a "burden" and don't want their family to feel put out. I think one of the most inportant parts of my job is to help my patients understand that their family wouldn't want it any other way!
One of my most memorable chaplain visits was to visit the wife of a patient who was not assigned to me, and whom I had never met before. We had a task to accomplish, and while working on that we started talking. I was a High-Church Episcopalian and she was Jewish "not-religious" I learned, but this made no difference I soon realized. As we sat together at their kitchen table, coffee in hand we talked. She shared about how she had met her husband, the children they had together. The good times and the hard times they shared together in their 70 years of marriage. With a twinkle in her eye she spoke of their granddaughter who had just graduated from college, she was so proud. We talked about the difficulty of her husband's illness and how she tried to keep a positive attitude about it all. As I sat there listening to her talk I soon realized that she was probably giving me more encouragement than I to her. But then, most often as a chaplain, I listen...I listen to stories about life, about faith, about family and friends...this visit was no different.