A sign I keep in my office says, “What people need is a good listening to.”
It’s my reminder. Whether the person is sick, emotionally drained, or just tired, they often need to talk. That means someone has to listen.
Talking can be an effective way to unload one’s burdens. This is especially true in a palliative care setting. There are often emotional and spiritual issues tied up in the illness. This is the reason the chaplain is part of the palliative care team.
|The patient does not have to be religious to need to talk. The person trained to be a “non-anxious presence” may just be the one they need.|
Oftentimes I am simply the one in the room to hear the story of the one who is sick or dying. That is my function at that moment: to be a witness to their lives.
If the patient or family wants to talk about spiritual things, we do. If not, we don’t. They get to decide. I support their decision.