After a rather harassed morning where I struggled to turn the shower on(!) I made it to St.Albans for the Spiritual Care Department’s first team meeting, followed by a team lunch. At the meeting, we discussed End of Life Care, anticipatory loss and spoke about several upcoming events such as a training day for clergy and the production of three new leaflets to advertise and recruit volunteers for the department, which is still in its’ infancy having only been set up 20 months ago. I also got the opportunity to talk about my dreams and plans for placement, mental health at LST – and beyond! It was exciting to be encouraged by the professionals and given ideas (a focus firstly on depression and anxiety for example.) We then held a reflection on anticipatory loss, exploring the issues that surround it and the pain it causes. This was particularly useful in terms of dementia patients and their families because they do face loss after loss, and in the face of a diagnosis may particularly struggle with the concept that they will face nothing but loss- until the ultimate loss when the disease claims the patient’s life. It was a reflection that I found particularly useful on the dementia wards later in the week.
That afternoon I was to spend three hours working with Linda at the Shroddell’s unit at Watford General. I found this incredibly difficult, I had another chat with Gemma, the girl who I had spoken to the day before and I was struck afresh by the fear that I could have been in the same place but for the grace of God. We then went to chat to a lady called Pam in her room. The talk itself was not distressing – it was quite an academic talk about her use of different spiritual practices together. However, the incredibly close heat in her room, exhaustion and earlier painful realisations too much and suffered from quite a severe panic attack. Because of this I had to leave early, because obviously the unit and Linda’s presence on the unit is to care for the patients – not the helpers!
After I failed to get through to Mum, I rang Simon and he talked to me as I walked to my car, calming me and telling me funny stories as always. I then spoke to my wonderful Mum and headed off to have a cup of tea and a cuddle with Kelly. In doing those things I was reminded how far I have come that I know the things to do and put in place to ease the panic and recover. By dealing with it, I felt how far I had come and I was and am so thankful to God for getting me thus far. It again reinforced that I am doing this work in God’s strength because I do not have the strength alone. It also reminded me that I need to keep throwing myself at God’s feet in prayer.