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A Chaplain's Point-of-View

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Little girl dancing in the woods

By: Amy Claassen, Chaplain for Hospice and HomeCare of Reno County

So often we are asked how we do this hospice job. It feels even more questionable when a child is in the picture. I want to share my thoughts after spending many hours watching one of the most innocents on earth die. 

There are really only two things I am sorry about. I am sorry that sometimes she gurgled. I know without a doubt that just because I hear that sound, it does not necessarily mean that someone is experiencing any discomfort. This sweet young girl was very comfortable and her symptoms were managed expertly.  That doesn't make it any easier to hear, especially with a child.

 I am also sorry for the loss that family and especially the parents experienced yesterday. There is absolutely nothing that makes it acceptable for a parent to lose a child.

With that being said, do we all really understand the blessings we receive in the work that we do?  I started with the hard part of yesterday because I wanted to get it out of the way. Now I want to share with you the beauty that was yesterday.  We were present to witness amazing love, miracles of comfort, healthy family relationships mixed in with some unhealthy ones, and so very much more.

This girl was loved so much by all of her family.  She was held for four days straight, put down a few minutes at a time to clean her or change her clothes, but other than those moments, she was in the arms of her mother or father. 

The family called for hospice staff to come about 3 AM on Wednesday morning after the child had some breathing changes and mouthed the word “home”.  They were sure she was dying.  They were right, but she took her time.  We often wonder why people linger, and it was easy to see that she was soaking up every ounce of love and family she could in those days and hours, and the family was soaking up every ounce of this precious girl that they could to keep in their hearts forever. 

There were moments that I was very angry with God for not just ending this process, but at the end of the day, This child's dad was able to say that she died peacefully in our arms, just the way we wanted it. 

There were sacred and holy moments in those hours.  Paula, the nurse suggested they put some of the child's favorite movies in, and after I explained to her big brother that we expected his sister to die today, they put in Frozen and we got to witness this sweet older brother singing to his sister in a pile of sister, mom, dad and brother on the couch. 

There was nothing we could do to fix this, but our calm presence and reassurance was extremely important to this family, and we were given a gift that left us extremely sad, and forever touched and changed by the way they allowed us in for this holy time. 

We can’t always see it, but please remember how important our role is with these families we have been trusted with.  And also remember that we are honored and blessed by each opportunity.  Even the hard ones.