"As a Spiritual Care Counselor (SCC), being present with patients on this journey allows one to be in touch with the priorities of life, death, love, and family. Walking this journey is very intimate, and being present with someone as they reflect on their life is truly a sacred experience. Being with patients in these final hours uplifts me. I have the privilege of coming alongside patients and entering into a sacred space. I am edified to have been allowed to enter into the lives of my patients and their families. " -Jaime, a LightBridge SCC.
Why Spiritual Care is so Important
As a patient's illness progresses, a patient's emotional needs may change, and other issues may arise. A spiritual care counselor focuses on caring from the heart no matter the religious or spiritual background of the patient or family members. "As spiritual care counselors, we focus on spirituality, the sacred part of the inner life that gives meaning and purpose. By providing affirmation, feedback when necessary, encouragement, and insights, patients who are not particularly religious have benefited from trusting the Spiritual Care Counselor about what is going on in their inner lives." -Jaime, a LightBridge SCC.
As a part of the hospice interdisciplinary team, Spiritual Care Counselors are emotional guides walking hand in hand with patients and their families through the sea of emotions that often accompany the end-of-life journey.
A Companion to the End
The spiritual aspect of life includes many emotions, which are so important. "It gives me great joy when someone trusts me and tells me what is going on," says Jaime. A statement I hear a lot is, "I am afraid.' As a Spiritual Care Counselor, I can provide them with validation, allow them to express their fear, and encourage them to trust the perseverance that has carried them this far in life will continue to do so."
Creating an open space for whatever the patient may need, whether to facilitate, reflect, be present, or allow the space to express the inner life openly, can bring healing and closure. "There is no judgment, only support. We are your spiritual companion in the end-of-life journey."
Support for all Involved
The Spiritual Care Counselor is available to the patient and anyone involved with the patient's care, whether family, friends, or caregivers. Getting to know the Spiritual Care Counselor early on is truly beneficial; this gives time for relationships and trust to build. Not infrequently, a patient may be put off by the idea of engaging with a Spiritual Care Counselor or a family member may mistakenly make that decision for them. We encourage them to think of the SCC as just another member of their care team and explain a meeting that could include a trusted family member or caregiver can help provide the patient with the additional services and support they may need.
Spiritual care is a free hospice benefit that provides much-needed support, reassurance, care, love, and understanding. "For us, professional chaplaincy is about caring for the human spirit. We are trained to wade into the midst of human suffering, to recognize spiritual distress in our fellow human beings, to promote healing even when there is no cure, and to affirm the value of life even in the face of certain death. This is what we mean by caring for the human spirit." – HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) President and CEO the Rev. Eric J. Hall. We all have our path to walk, and no one can walk it for us, but we will be here walking with you hand in hand until the very end.