This summer will be seven years since starting in my role and it has been such a privilege. My background as a teacher, minister, school and workplace chaplain has given me a lifetime experience of drawing alongside people, ideal for my role at St. Mary’s. I come in to visit patients, their relatives, staff and volunteers two days each week. I stand in awe at the love and wonderful care being shown by all the staff to patients and their families, especially at times when people are facing life shortening illness and in some cases clearly needing end of life care. There is a truly peaceful atmosphere that is so evident when walking through the door and an incredible mixture of love, humour and yes at times sadness all mixed together.
I am asked from time to time ”how do you do it”? The vast majority of patients adopt the approach that whilst they are very ill, they are not going to make everyone miserable because of it, which makes my role a lot easier. Sensitivity is vital, knowing if to broach spiritual matters or hold back. It is amazing how people who perhaps would not normally pray are very glad for me to pray for them. I mentioned humour…..one patient greeted me with an A4 sheet of paper and said you are doing it and there is no opt out clause! On closer inspection it turned out to be her funeral service she had planned, which was a privilege to take having shared her last few weeks of life alongside her, her husband and son.
I have never tired of coming regularly to the hospice and always seek to honour the trust given to me allowing me to draw alongside people. I know everyone who works at the hospice, either in a paid capacity or like myself as a volunteer, is part of a team that brings comfort and care to many. It is no wonder St Mary’s Hospice is regarded so highly in South Cumbria and beyond.