Each year the COMISS Network promotes Spiritual Care Week. It is an occasion to recognize the different disciplines who offer spiritual care to persons. The theme for 2018 is Hospitality: Cultivating Time. Throughout this week you will hear from CBF endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors as they focus on this theme. Below is Part 1.
By Kerri Kroeker
The theme of “Cultivating Time” for Spiritual Care Week is meaningful to me. In Spiritual Care, one of the gifts we bring to the table is time The hospital, however, is an incredibly busy place and time is often not afforded. But with time, we are able to acknowledge the person, not just the medicine.
In spite of my connection with the theme, I had difficulty deciding what to write. I became stuck and my anxiety rose as the deadline approached.
As I reflected on my anxiety, I decided that I needed to stop my rumination and allow myself time to get unstuck. In giving myself time, I recognized that this place of being stuck is a prevalent theme in healthcare. Patients can be stuck in many different ways. They can be physically stuck due to complex medical issues, they can be stuck emotionally because they cannot make sense of what they are facing, they can be stuck spiritually because it is hard to reconcile why their concept of the divine is allowing their suffering.
We live in a society that is obsessed with happiness. People in a crisis are suffering and as a whole, society, being focused on happiness, attempts to make people feel better and expects them to feel better quickly. Society does not tolerate the concept of “stuck” well.
When someone loses a loved one, space is given for several months or even a year and then the expectation is for them to pick up and move on. For those with a chronic illness, either physical or mental, space is given for a time but then they are expected to put on a smile and when asked how they are doing the expected answer is “I’m good” or “Things are okay.” Many people I meet in my work are frustrated with pretending to be okay.
As the Chaplain, I go in without an agenda. I’m not taking vitals, I’m not asking them to get up and move or take a medication. I’m there to give space and time for them to be where they are and to feel what they feel.
Those who enter into the hospital are standing in a rain storm. Most people in their lives are yelling at them to come in from out of the rain. A few may take the time to run out and give them an umbrella. My job is to go and stand with them in the rain for as long as they want me.
This is cultivating time. Being with, regardless of outcome or timeline. Creating safe space for them to be authentically themselves. The healing this brings is remarkable. Whether it is a moment, a week, a month or even a year, these moments of cultivated time provide moments of freedom from however they are stuck. This is what we get to bring to the table.
Kerri Kroeker serves as the Spiritual Health Practitioner at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Rockyview is an acute care facility with Alberta Health Services with over 600 in-patient beds, focused in orthopedics, urology, general medicine, maternity, emergency, ICU/CCU, mental health, and AGU (Acute Geriatrics Unit which focuses on Geriatric medicine and rehabilitation).