Despite the limitations of COVID-19, we continue to provide Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care services. In fact, last year, we assisted 512 individuals.
Spiritual care is about connections. The main two Jewish spiritual care resources are community and tradition.
When we picture a chaplaincy visit, we often think of a bedside visit with a patient in the hospital or a resident in an assisted living facility. Our visits often involve family members, and sometimes they are the main focus.
Recently, from a referral from a hospital chaplain, one of our Spiritual Care volunteers made a phone visit with the wife of a patient whose husband was on a ventilator due to COVID-19. She was distraught, to say the least.
“Barbara,” (not her real name), had survived COVID. Her mother and sister were quarantining together at home after visiting their father who originally was in the hospital for a stroke, but while there contracted COVID.
Thanks to JFS’s relationship with the hospital, the chaplain facilitated the connection between our Spiritual Care volunteer and Barbara. This was the start of Barbara’s experience of being cared for in the midst of a family crisis and connected to JFS and the Jewish community.
The Spiritual Care volunteer reached out to me for a Jewish clergy referral since the family was not connected with a congregation and clearly needed support.
When I called Barbara, she was beside herself – overwhelmed would be putting it lightly. In the spirit of the central prayer in Jewish tradition – Shema Yisrael (Hear O Israel), I listened and heard her struggle.
Realizing Barbara’s father had COVID, the medical team considered it best to have him home for recovery before longer team care in follow-up to address impacts of his stroke. The recommendation left Barbara feeling at a loss with no recourse, no source for informed consultation and sequestered in disorganization. She felt vulnerable, anticipating a circumstance in which she was to be support for her family and father in a life-threatening situation.
After fact-finding and assessment, I consulted with Laura Gilman, our Director of Older Adult Services. She and her team function as advocates for our clients. They segue to conversation social work peers populating roles in medical centers as discharge planners. This led to our director contacting Barbara to ensure our help in generating more options.
In following up with Barbara, I learned how deeply impressed and touched Barbara was that staff from JFS – our Spiritual Care volunteer, myself, and our director – none of whom she knew, were ready, responsive, and effectively there for her. Despite the dire situation, Barbara learned quickly she was not alone; for that, she was profoundly grateful.
Barbara’s father died in the hospital two days later. His death was peaceful but occurred while he was alone. Her husband also passed peacefully, but alone at the hospital. In the complexity of this life transition, Barbara and her family were grateful for the support received. Prayerfully, may their memories be for a blessing; and may God bless the dedicated, faithful daughter and wife, Barbara, who unexpectedly joined our JFS family in a powerful fullness of time.
If you or someone you know is in a time of crisis – perhaps related to a health issue, ailing relative, or death in the family – who would benefit from a visit or call from myself or a Spiritual Care volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org