September is looking like a tough month at the hospital where I work. Unless things change miraculously, our ER and ICUs and extra spaces will continue to be stretched.
My position is .6, that is about 24 hours a week, three shifts. Sometimes they stretch a little, and in September, I’m picking up some extra hours.
But those of you who know me know that I spend more time than that thinking about pastoral care and grief, about finding meaning and hope, about offering what I can. And I’m aware that my coworkers in the hospital are having a really hard time.
I started, just now, to write about some of those coworkers, the tears in their eyes, the frustration in their voices.
But I think I need to spend time thinking about how to actually help them and less time trying to get people to understand the pain.
When one of my friends was getting verbally attacked for a modest suggestion the other day, I wrote these words on her page:
Another way to approach this is to say, do something. Do something to avoid the spread. Do anything at all that would be a proactive step to not carry and to not be a carrier. Do anything at all that might keep you from the ICU rooms that I walk past, and the staff that I try to encourage, while wearing an N-95 for a few hours at a time while talking to family members. And refrain from doing things that may keep others from doing something.
I’m aware of debates and theories. My academic discipline includes the study of persuasion. But I also know what one-on-one conversations about death and dying are like. And I have them with people that I know. I don’t like those conversations.
Whatever the layers of arguments, actual people get sick (some with this virus), actual people die, actual people care for them, actual people don’t get the contact with their family they wish they could have, and there are a range of actual things that can be done by actual people that can help. And there are actual chaplains who actually have faith and are really really sad.
To give my heart some space for our patients, my coworkers, some students, and my family, in September I’ll be sharing prayers from my prayer books here at 300wordsaday.com. And I’ll be doing my best to stay away from my social media accounts, other than sharing those prayers.
I’ll be okay. Of this I am confident. (Although Nancy will tell you that I’m closer to tears and frustration than ever.) I worry more about the coworkers who do everything they can, still watch people die, and then walk out into verbal attacks.
But please be careful.
Physically, yes. In our state as well as others, there simply aren’t many intensive care beds for the normal awful tragedies that happen.
But relationally, too.
And I’ll remember you often. As I talk with God about all this.