Action Zones 

Day in the life of a Hospital Chaplain

dusty miller26th November 2018
Dusty Miller
as published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine


The late afternoon sun filters through the stained-glass windows casting a kaleidoscope of colours across a well-trodden carpet. A solitary figure sobs gently in the corner, perhaps contemplating the sudden death of a loved one or a terminal personal diagnosis. The cross on the altar of a little chapel - an oasis of calm in the heart of a bustling hospital - stands firm
In the little office beside the chapel, behind the ever-open door, a chaplain waits to be of service - or not - whatever is preferred
Upstairs on a ward, perhaps another chaplain sits beside the bed of a dying patient, holding the fragile hand, reading some comforting words and consoling distraught family or friends, whilst concerned and caring staff receive an encouraging word
On returning, he or she catches the eye of a visitor or staff member and the cheery greeting fails to hide the hidden plea for a listening ear and a comforting word. Often little needs to be said save for the consoling reassurance that someone cares
The scene changes to the quieter hours of the early morning, and our ‘on call’ chaplain can be seen hurrying along the deserted corridor with Bible, prayer book and anointing oil in hand, as he or she heads towards the baby unit or the bereavement suite
Come early morning, sounds of laughter and joy emanate from that same comforting space next to the little office - a service of celebration or thanksgiving being enjoyed by patients and staff. festivals of Christmas, Easter, and remembrance services are all part of what we have to offer

Pastoral Care for All - All of the Time

For approximately 35 years it has been my privilege and joy to be a volunteer chaplain at our local hospital - a small part of a team, a diverse mixture of clergy and lay people, whose sole object is to bring a little comfort and hope to those of all faiths and none, regardless of creed, race, or gender and wherever possible, or appropriate, to bring the love of God to sick, troubled or dying souls at some of the most difficult times of their lives
The word ‘chaplain’ comes from a Latin word for cloak. The story goes that many years ago Saint Martin met a poor man begging in the rain. He had no way of staying dry or warm so Martin tore his cloak in half, gave one half to the man, and kept the other for himself, thus signifying that a chaplain cares and supports, offering spiritual care for those in need whilst keeping himself sufficiently protected enough to continue his work
Most of us need to be needed, and we find our need for purpose, love, hope for the future, in things that surround us in everyday life. Being admitted to hospital, and suddenly being removed from the people and situations which feed our spirituality, can leave us vulnerable, magnifying problems out of all proportion
Chaplaincy is able to provide a listening ear on a one to one basis in complete confidence. Contact with faith groups and other cultures, provision of a prayer room, symbols for language difficulties, Gideon bibles, bedside communions, also memorials, funerals, marriages, baby services, bereavement support; these are all part of the service
Many questions are asked. We do not pretend to know all the answers. Illness changes people. Fear, anger, resentment, loss – all these rise to the surface, and when people, understandably, turn away from their faith, we remain alongside to share and to comfort – the silent listener
We endeavour to share the joys and sorrows, to cry and to treat ‘those 2 imposters just the same’, for they will always walk hand in hand in this beautiful but broken world. When the going gets tough we come together to pray and to talk – for we too hurt

Pastoral Care for All - All of the Time

This is what we try to achieve and when we fail we remind ourselves that we are human too!