March27 , 2023

    A Lesson on Suffering from a Hospice Chaplain


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    The thing about being a hospice chaplain is that you deal with people who are at the end of their lives. There are no future dreams and hopes left in this life, but only a lot of reflection on the past. There is one case that changed me forever.

    “There is one case that changed me forever.”

    I was called out to a nursing home to visit a patient, named Grace whose family thought she was near the end. Walking into the room, I expected the family to be there but Grace was alone, except for her roommate in the next bed. Grace was unable to speak so I sat and read to her for a while.

    Her roommate began to tell me about how Grace was 60 years old and had suffered from this disease for the last 42 years—completely debilitated and dependent on others for everything. She went on to tell me about how Grace was a dancer when she was young and loved children, planning to go to college to be a teacher. She loved Jesus and wanted to show His love to her students. All of that disappeared when Grace was diagnosed with an illness at the age of 18.

    Grace quickly declined and was unable to do any of the things she did before, having to be carried to the bathroom on her mother’s back, unable to care for herself. I sat there silently and became hot with anger. I thought to myself, this is the good plan for her life? Her life was terrible, unfair, and completely wrong. All her dreams were shattered with no happy ending. It ended here in a nursing home, with the sounds of wheelchairs, moaning patients, and medical equipment.

    My thoughts were interrupted by the hand of Grace’s nephew on my shoulder. He walked past me, kissed her on the forehead and sat down. He told me the reason he knew Jesus was because of his aunt Grace, in fact, everyone in the family knew Jesus because of her. With tears in his eyes, he told me how she suffered for over 40 years but nobody can remember a complaint e