A Day in the Life of a Chaplain

My day contains key touchstones: rest, rejuvenation, intentional prayer, meditation, caregiving, reflection and self-care. After a deep sleep, I start with personal prayer/meditation in my “retreat nook” at home – where I pause to reflect, rejuvenate. Reading material, Bible, pen & paper, candle are nearby to align myself with centering for the day ahead. My cat finds herself in my lap, helping me to focus with intentional relaxation. This gentle creature serves as a steadfast reminder to pause…breathe.

At the palliative care office, I check the census for the day’s 25 patients. Next our interdisciplinary team meets where each patient’s status is discussed. Triage begins for visits: most urgent patients I see immediately. I conference with UH staff chaplains and I’m off and running. Midday I take an intentional break to rest and rejuvenate through self-care of a healthy lunch AND meditation. Some visits can be intense in the ICU with those who are actively dying or coming alongside family members who are struggling with their loved one’s grim prognosis. My afternoons are spent with palliative family meetings & follow-ups that are both heartwarming & heartbreaking. Some are discharged home with joy, some are discharged to hospice, some are discharged to homeless shelters and some are “discharged” through death. Each day brings challenges: a rolling wave of joy or sorrow; grief or relief; smiles or tears; laughing or weeping. Each day demands a moment to pause, to reflect, chart/debrief with colleagues. It’s a good day to behold. I am blessed indeed.

Reverend Kate Huddelson, M.Div., BCCC, BCPC – Palliative Care Chaplain, UH Cleveland Medical Center

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