A Hospice chaplain in COVID times

Jul 14, 2020

Annie Blampied-Radojcin is a OneSpirit Interfaith Minister, a soul midwife, Hospice Chaplain and Authentic Presence practitioner. Her gifts include accompanying those who are in the process of dying and provide training for people wishing to become Quietude Practitioners, tailor made ceremonies and spiritual counselling sessions. As a hospice chaplain, she has a unique view of the impact COVID-19 pandemic is having on patients, staff and families involved.

COVID-19 has brought inevitable changes to the hospice where I work. The day patients are at home, so are all the volunteers, and non-clinical staff. Gone are the therapy dogs, fresh flowers everywhere, and families and friends circling round their loved one on the ward. All the doors are closed. It is very quiet. No one is wearing colourful clothes. All the in-patient unit staff now wear the same uniforms, whether doctors, nurses, or support workers like cleaners, nursing assistants, catering staff and chaplains – dark green tunics and dark trousers. It takes time to add plastic aprons, gloves and goggles before entering a patient’s room. I’m already wearing a mask. By the time I sit by someone’s bed, I’m in no hurry to leave.

Image source: Pinterest

I have noticed that these circumstances have caused me to slow down, and be more present. I’ve become more comfortable with silence. I’ve realised that the family gathered lovingly around might have served, sometimes, as a defence for the patient. Now the patients seem more exposed, and, given time, are speaking to me more deeply, about their most intimate relationships, or matters of faith.  The changing circumstances might, in some ways, be more lonely for them. However, as I sit with someone in that space, knowing I don’t have to hurry to finish before a family member returns to the room, out of the silence, unexpected things have come to the surface. It is as if the patient is able to bear witness to their soul in a deeper way.
Maybe it is simply because I am able to be more present. It has been a lesson to just sit quietly, without feeling I need to “do” anything.  In that moment, perhaps, my heart is more free to be active it just the way it needs in response to the patient’s heart.

There’s been a photo doing the rounds amongst my friends online showing a winged angel standing behind a doctor, who is wearing scrubs, and sitting exhausted on a hospital bed, a hand supporting their bent head.  A hand of the angel is resting on their shoulder, giving strength and comfort. The image reminds me how the spiritual world works through people of good will in hospitals and hospices. We are never alone.

It’s important for me to remember this, in relation to COVID patients dying without their family members accompanying them. Of course this can be a deep sadness and anxiety for the family, and maybe very frightening for the patient, who may feel alone.  But I remind myself that their guardian angel is right with them, accompanying, guarding and guiding them every step of the way. Doctors and nurses have also reported standing in for family members, holding patients’ hands as they die. It is no idle fantasy to imagine there may even be a company of angels around them.  Our love and prayers from afar can also be a very great support.

Click here to go back to the Community Collection

Finding and Maintaining Your Peace

In these challenging times, and in accordance with our ethos, remembering our unity and honouring our individual uniqueness, in a world all too frequently consumed by conflict and division, we endeavour to keep our hearts open to all. We echo a sentiment prevalent...

25 Years of OneSpirit Reflections

Dear OneSpirit Community, Here we are 25 years on from the beginning of OneSpirit and what a delight it is to be a part of that time! Since the organisation began in 1996, we have witnessed 23 Ordinations and seen over 900 graduates of our school step into ministry,...

Interfaith Education

My interest in interfaith education stems from my own upbringing. Living in Birmingham, I have the privilege of being fully immersed in a multicultural and multi-faith community. My grandparents moved to England from Northern Ireland in the 1950s, with my Grandad...

Diversity and Interfaith – a personal perspective

Interfaith and interspiritual engagement is as personal and profound as any relationship-building. To me, it is about exploring the possibility of deep listening, and the transformational potential which can grow from this. As in other encounters, I find that...