People with severe illnesses or those nearing the end of life draw heavily on their religious and spiritual beliefs. That is why spiritual care is an integral part of our hospice and palliative programs. Four chaplains are on staff to companion patients and their families during this profound time.
The role of spiritual care at Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care can best be understood by understanding what differentiates a chaplain from a priest or rabbi. Religious leaders, such as priests, pastors, imams or rabbis, are
proclaimers and defenders of their faith. They teach from sacred texts and shepherd the belief systems of their followers according to religious teachings.
Chaplains Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care are spiritual guides who come from a variety of religious traditions. They do not proclaim one religion over another, but act as companions to patients and their families. Our chaplains journey with our families through palliative or hospice care according to their own preferences, beliefs and traditions.
Like other members of our interdisciplinary treatment team, our chaplains are expert listeners and our patient-centered treatment philosophy guides not only our medical but our spiritual care as well. While the medical needs of a patient may be well documented, spiritual needs are not always so apparent. In offering a listening ear or allowing the patient space to express their anger, pain, grief and loss, our chaplains can affirm the individual’s religious connections, faith, agnostic or atheistic beliefs and the things that give them meaning in life. Then they can journey together, offering comfort, encouragement, emotional and spiritual support.
For those of strong religious conviction, our chaplains bring strength and comfort through the reading holy texts, offering prayer that honors a faith tradition, helping reconnect to a faith community, calling a religious leader to perform a ritual, e.g., anointing of the sick or Holy Communion.
For others, simply the act of listening to a life reflection or sharing silence is enough. Chaplains assist families as liaisons to additional community resources including clergy and funeral services. Hospice chaplains are also available to conduct memorial services.
Matters of faith and spirituality take on immense proportion at this profound time. Hospice chaplains are privileged to be present in such an intimate part of life’s journey.