Saturday, October 01, 2005

Feeling a little better... for now

Thanks to those who sent good wishes and hugs. I needed 'em.

Actually did not get shadowed by supervisor--had a concrete question to ask him, and he took the interview for the new patient on Wednesday. Which worked well because the patient and he formed a good, supportive connection. The right thing happened!

I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and learning. Talked to a relative in great pain last night--a loved one is dying, and this relative holds some religious beliefs that are very clear-cut as far as what humans need to do/think/say in order to achieve salvation. Trouble is, the dying, greatly-loved one has not done/thought/said the right things, and now the relative is suffering terribly because of the thought that the loved one will not only die, but experience eternal separation from God. I can only imagine what pain the relative is feeling--and, of course, loved one's spiritual choices are absolutely out of relative's control. This is not my theology in any sense, and I knew better than to try to talk relative out of relative's beliefs; all I could do is sit with relative in the pain of experiencing a possibility so frightening and so very out of control. Relative is grieving some other losses as well, making the situation even harder. I prayed with relative that God will be as a beacon of guidance and wisdom and love to all. That, at least, I could pray with sincerity and without causing relative to shut down. I hope loved one will have some time to identify loved one's own spiritual needs as opposed to those of the relatives, and I hope relatives will be able to find a way to respect loved one and trust that God will care for all. For last night, it seemed my job was to listen, acknowledge the pain, and support this relative's plans for self-care.

At the other end of the spectrum was the patient who, asked if there was a religious preference, flatly asserted that religion "didn't do any good." Asked what does do good, the patient immediately answered "Animals!" Thus I notified the social worker, and now if the pet therapy volunteers are in the building this patient gets a visit. There is nothing on earth I can say or do that comes anywhere close to a Golden Retriever, not for this patient. And perhaps for many--Golden Retrievers may be born chaplains.


Blogger jean said...

I have been in private practice of counseling for 14 years. Some very brief experience as a spiritual counselor (whatever that is) for a hospice.

Normally, I am not directive with clients, and they are healthy, alert, and oriented x3.

However, sometines I find myself being very directive, as the occasion seems to require. Of course, there is no one looking over my shoulder at this point.

I don't know the context of your "directiveness", but was it absolutely all bad?

4:14 PM  

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