We all need to love and to be loved. We all have a need for relationship and for respect. We all need to know our story has been heard. These needs come into sharp focus when we know we are dying. This wisdom was presented at the End of Life Seminar recently organised by the Revd Mark Wilson, Chaplain in Tallaght Hospital.
The first speaker of the day was the Revd Bruce Pierce who opened the seminar by leading us in a meditation that gently led us to reflect on our own inevitable death: a sombre beginning to a day of serious discussion but also interspersed with good humour and wit. Canon Neil McEndoo spoke of his work at Harold’s Cross hospice and the hope that people carry even as they face death. Dr Stephen Higgins, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, spoke of his work and the excellent care provided by palliative teams who provide medical support, spiritual support and, very importantly, treatment for pain.
Caring for the dying calls us to reflect on our own mortality as we grapple with our hope in Christ and a natural fear of the unknown, the mystery of death. Empathy is a most important quality. There is an emotional cost for those who walk with people who are dying. They too need to avail of support for their own wellbeing as they meet the challenges that arise. The Church’s Ministry of Healing is glad to offer support in whatever way it can to clergy and chaplains who are engaged in this vital work.