Published on January 22, 2016

Health Care for Others Includes Compassionate Care for Each Other

By Nancy Ingleson, Spiritual Care, Chaplain

What Gets Us Through Each Day

When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. - Paulo Coelho

When you are enthusiastic about what you do,
you feel this positive energy - Paulo Coelho.

Health care workers at Genesis each comprise an interesting assortment of personality, including positive attitude, capability, resilience, passion, compassion, staying power, duty, courage and grief. Regardless of the uniquely personal mix of these qualities, health care workers have in common the inclination to put others, specifically patients, first.

More than an emotion, this inclination to serve others is a drive, a movement, a force. This energy takes over at times and provides our staff with a thrust that can last beyond what each worker has normally to give. I know this is true because I see it every day working along side my colleagues. In our business that energy is what gets us through each day.

When Everything Goes Quiet

Lest we draw the dangerous conclusion that health care workers are thus somehow immune to the experience of loss and the emotions of grief, we are invited instead to give of our attention--the kind of attention that takes concentration, time, and a willingness to suffer with another--to each other.

The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places - Ernest Hemingway.

The world breaks every one, then some become strong
at the broken places - Ernest Hemingway.

I have been alongside nurses and doctors when the person on the table dies. I have looked into their eyes as a doctor makes the end-of-life “call” and everything goes quiet. I have watched shoulders drop and heads go down. The idea of grief for this loss, at such a time, is somewhere down the road. What is real, what we are left with, is the raw unmitigated sense of NOW in a world of NEXT.

Inviting those we serve and those we work with to honor their own lived experiences, including loss and its outcomes that are difficult to bear, is what we chaplains do daily. The shared work of healing from this kind of grief involves all of us on the medical team affected: our co-workers, a Spiritual Care chaplain; and, our family and friends…and time.

There Is Comfort and Healing for Our Journey

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think - Winnie the Pooh.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than
you seem, and smarter than you think - Winnie the Pooh.

What does this mean for those of us who work in health care, either directly or indirectly for the healing of the sick and injured? The above illustration, while poignant, is just one example of loss.

What good might come from reading a reflection like this? Maybe we might dare to say the things we do not say nearly enough: What was it like to lose this patient? What did you feel when the family blamed you for the patient’s decline? You have the right to feel sad. That was really hard to handle today. How are you feeling? Slow down a bit and tell me how you are planning to address your feelings.

Are health care workers superhuman? Of course not. Yet, the stakes are high, the stress huge, and the pace relentless. Let us trust that letting down our guard and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable will give our other co-workers permission to do the same. When we address these feelings central to our losses in the workplace, we will find with the rest of our community that there is comfort and healing for our journey with grief.

Click here for more support or contact a Genesis Grief Support staff member at 563-421-5000.

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