Meditation: Caring For The Sick

By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious

I. Coping with life after the diagnosis

When you care for someone with a chronic disease or serious illnesses there are several issues or changes which may occur for both the patient and the caregivers:

  1. Loss of the norm and the need to establish a new one

  2. Presence of pain which may be constant or intermittent

  3. Feeling of being a burden because of the time-consuming care required

  4. Worry about finance because of the need to purchase medication and pay for doctor’s visits

  5. Feeling of guilt and shame especially if the illness results from poor lifestyle choices

  6. Change of personality which may manifest as bitterness, anger, resentment and impatience

  7. Possible loss of faith where either person or both question God’s love or delay in healing

  8. Increased dependence on God, deepened faith, frequency and intensity of prayers

  9. Need to be distracted or entertained, which requires creative activities and options

  10. Need for both to have a break from each other so in this regard supportive friends are essential

II. Survival issues

When persons survive severe illnesses and recover, we truly appreciate that “we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.” However, there is a whole range of emotions which may be experienced:

  1. Joy and relief that prayers have been answered and the worst is over

  2. Gratitude for the blessing of a second chance to live life more fully

  3. Fear of relapse even when tests results continue to indicate healing has occurred

  4. Anxiety over prevention and the new lifestyle choices that need to be developed

  5. Grief over the loss of freedom to continue with habits which are now considered dangerous

  6. Frustration that that all of these have happened and undisciplined persons are unaffected

  7. Impatience with the effort needed to re-establish regular routines

  8. Anger over Issues of authority/control/balance of power especially with elderly parents

III. Mortality and medicine

The physician, patient and family members are often faced with ethical and moral conflicts and dilemmas related to care for the patient. For example, there are significant questions to ponder: When is it time to let a person die peacefully? Is it a matter of choice for the family, the patient, the medical team or all three together? How are the following determinations to be made:

  1. Determining when all has been done and it is time to allow nature to take its course

  2. Determining when the person is suffering too much

  3. Determining what to do with someone “brain dead”

  4. Determining when to “pull the plug”

  5. Determining if death is to be seen as failure on the part of the medical team

  6. Determining how to grieve while the person is still alive

  7. Determining when counselling is necessary

IV. Money and medicine

  1. Determining what role money should play in making medical decisions

  2. Determining when enough money has been spent and the debts are too high

  3. Determining when money should not be a consideration

  4. Determining who is eligible for government assistance

  5. Determining if care continues after the insurance money runs out

  6. Determining differences between private and public care and how to address inequities

V. Death as the final healing

How does faith, belief in the power of prayer, the occurrence of miracles and the reality of death in the midst of the mystery of life fit together?

  1. What if a patient believes in life after death or does NOT believe in life after death? Should belief determine length and type of care?

  2. How to determine the benefit full and honest disclosure and the risk it could make the patient’s condition worsen?

V. Preparing a patient for death

Attention has to be given to the following:

  1. Healing hurts from the past, resolving issues in the present, while facing probable fears about the future

  2. The need for confession, absolution, forgiveness of self and others and possible reconciliation

  3. Organ donation and the process involved if family is not in agreement

  4. The validity of living wills

VI. Gift of pastoral care

The gift to all persons concerned is the support offered by trained chaplains (lay and ordained) and those trained volunteers who make the journey easier:

  1. Praying caregivers who offer spiritual support

  2. Listening caregivers who give everyone space to share thoughts and feelings

  3. Loving caregivers whose bedside manner provides the healing gift of presence

May we all be blessed to have such persons in our lives when faced with a season of sickness.

• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at angelapalacious@gmail.com.


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