...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear Caregivers

It was a long day's journey into night at a local public hospital the week before the Holidays.

I learned so much about the excellent care and wisdom of the surgeon and the quality of people on the staff, from the nurses to the cafeteria personnel.

These are good words from the waiting room. They can apply to anyone who attempts to offer their care, not just in the recovery room. What kind of letter do you think your care-receiver would write? What would they add or edit? 

Dear Caregivers:

Please excuse my bad behavior! I don't usually act like this, but I'm frightened and feel vulnerable. 

I read your every facial expression as an indicator of my health- or bad news. 

I listen to everything you say, and every exchange you have with staff members. I think everything I hear is about me.

Don't forget about me or leave me alone for too long- I'm scared! I'm not only afraid of what will happen to me, but also what I'll see while I'm here. It's upsetting to me.

I wonder how clean your hands are and whom you last touched, but I won't say anything. I want you to like me and treat me nicely.

My diagnosis may not be life-threatening, but it is a big deal for me. In fact, I will always remember this visit. My family will talk about it for a long time. It will become part of our family history. 

Explain everything in a way that I can understand. Use words I know. I should know what your are saying to me. but sometimes I don't. 

Be kind. I appreciate the fact that you are here when I need you. I just wish you knew me outside the hospital. There are people who love, need, and pray for me. By the way, they are praying for you too.

Your Patient

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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