Peace I bequeath of you, my own peace I give you, a peace the word cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
The role of a hospice is to assist the patient to carry his or her burden. The medical staff will do everything possible to deal with the patients physical pain, but often there are other forms of pain : loneliness, fear disbelief that this could happen, worries , about family and work, emotional pain, spiritual pain, pain of the soul.
There is also questioning about how a loving God can allow something like this to happen. I perceive hospice chaplaincy as a ministry of accompaniment of the patient and the patients family - travelling the journey with them.
Edward Daly, a native of Fermanagh, was bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993. He is author of Mister, Are You a Priest? (2000) and the co-author of The Clergy of the Diocese of Derry: an Index (2nd ed., 2009).
Since his retirement as Bishop of Derry almost ten years ago he has served as Chaplain in the Foyle Hospice in Derry. Now he has put together some reflections on that experience to assist those who are accompanying their family member, friend or patient on the final stage of their earthly journey, Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled . Dr Dalys encounter with a mostly female nursing staff in the hospice brought home to him what he describes as the powerful feminine dimension of care. He relates his story gently and simply revealing many of the cares and concerns of those he has met and describes the solace and even joy that can be found in the hospice environment. There are a number of practical insights shared that may help those unused to such a situation and Dr Daly while not dodging some of the hard questions about Gods mercy and euthanasia allays any fears that people might have about hospice care. This short book lends a helping hand from one who will always be associated with that raised bloodstained handkerchief as he ministered to the dying in less happy days in his native city.
Fr Paul Clayton-Lea