December 15, 2017

Radio Interview: Chaplain Mike on Steve Brown, Etc.

The Curve to Home, Photo by David Cornwell

The Curve to Home, Photo by David Cornwell

I had a wonderful opportunity last week to talk with our friend Steve Brown on his radio program, Steve Brown, Etc. We talked about my work as a hospice chaplain and my book, Walking Home Together.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.

Steve: Michael, talk about that sacred experience when you sit down with somebody, and there’s no denial, and you’ve gotta deal with it.

CM: Yeah. Fortunately for me, I don’t often have to introduce the discussion because, as a hospice chaplain, people have already been through the getting the bad news, and they’ve come on to a program to help them during that final season of life. But I often see them very soon after that and have to sit down and listen — which is, you know, 90% of my job, what I do — and then try to be of encouragement and support to them as they face this.

Of course, one of the great advantages of being in hospice is that you’re part of a team, so I don’t even have to do this alone. I mean, there’s a nurse to talk to them about the medical issues, there’s a social worker to help them with psychosocial things and practical matters that need attention, there are home health aides to help them and their caregivers with personal care, and then I’m there basically to be a friend — someone who can listen and offer perspective and hopefully be an encouragement to them.

Steve: Do people express their fears? You know, I get so tired of Christians who say, “I’m not afraid of death, I’m going to heaven, man, I can hardly wait!”

And I’d say, “Yeah, but what if you’re going on Thursday? How would that make you feel?”

There’s a lot of denial, isn’t there?

CM: There is. And it’s often only in an ongoing discussion where people have come to trust you that they’re able to open up and talk about fears.

One of the interesting things I have seen, regardless of who it is, is that the vast majority of people aren’t really that afraid for themselves, they’re really more afraid for the ones they love. They are concerned about what’s going to happen to their family — are they going to be ok? And it’s amazing to me how that perspective sometimes changes — they regret some of the things they’ve done or said to them and they want to make those things right.

Of course, there are their own fears, but you know, if we’re Christians we’ve been taught about what happens after death, but we’ve never been there. So, it’s still a daunting prospect to walk through a door to a place you’ve never been and not quite know what to expect. And so there’s just natural fear of anticipation but sometimes fear that comes out of guilt and all of that as well.

• • •

Listen to the entire podcast and/or download it at KEYLIFE.ORG.

Photo by David Cornwell at Flickr.

Comments

  1. That’s a good work you’re doing, CM. May God bless you and your family with peace and joy as you continue it.

  2. As with many radio hosts, the first half of the show was basically Steve interviewing himself. At least he’s funny. My favorite quote from him, “Jesus like me, and he likes me more than he likes you.” Possibly not in line with your own sense of humor. Also perhaps not in line with your sense of humor was him speaking of stealing half the drugs that were given to his mother when she was dying. If your humor has its dark side, you might give the podcast a try. Our Chaplain Mike holds his own in the second part.

    I’m halfway thru Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington by Daniel Mark Epstein. Walt Whitman moved to Washington DC during the War Between the States to minister on his own dime to the wounded soldiers from both sides that were brought there under horrific conditions. Neither Lincoln nor Whitman were religious in the church going sense, but Whitman referred to himself as the soldier’s missionary. He was so good at raising the spirits of the battered soldiers that hospital personnel gave him complete free rein to come and go whenever and wherever. As I am reading the accounts of this, it has struck me how much Whitman acted as a chaplain, or perhaps how you would like for chaplains to act.

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  4. Congratulations, Mike! This was great!