What engenders hope? Who holds hope? How can a person foster hope in another?
These ideas roll around in my head, when I am meditating, or when I am exercising. I read about hope, I study it, I read to see what others have said about it. I know, it’s unusual, but I usually find that when I’m on a project like this, there’s a reason, that things connect to it like a magnet.
Recently, I was sent two pieces of information about Hospital Chaplains, and how they engender hope through communication. These pieces came to me from different sources, one from the Pediatric Chaplain at Massachusetts General Hospital, and one from the Bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod for the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Both of them saw these items and thought I’d be able to blog about them. And these stories have been rolling around in my head, along with thoughts about communication and hope.
I know, it’s a pretty messy place inside my brain.
The Chaplain of MGH sent me information about the Wilbert Foundation. The Wilbert Foundation is a foundation that supports pediatric chaplains of hospitals, with support groups, continuing education training….and they Provide Bertie Bear Boxes.
This is Bertie Bear.
Bertie Bear comes in a box that is designed to look like his home. He comes with a backpack, a note pad, and a maze. These are meant to keep the sick and sometimes scared child busy. But these are not the most important things in the box. The most important thing is the white board:
The white board comes with emotions and a prompt. So the child can write how he or she is feeling, and why that is. Imagine if doctors walked into the hospital room and could tell by a glance not only how you are feeling physically, but what your emotional state is too. When emotions go up, vocabulary goes down, it’s hard to talk about how you are feeling. Imagine if you didn’t have to say it — you could just put a magnet on a board.
Now imagine if you couldn’t speak at all.
That’s when the other piece of information came to me from Bishop Bill Gohl. It was about a chaplain who designed a board that allows people in the ICU to express their emotions and ask for simple comforts. It’s called a spiritual care board, but again, it serves many more purposes:
The idea with the spiritual care board is that you can discuss your emotions, and then ask for help. Perhaps you are feeling helpless, and would like to have someone read to you. Perhaps you are feeling uneasy and would like to have someone hold your hand. You can point to the pictures, and a caretaker can understand what you want.
Imagine the relief when your emotional pain is registered and attended to when your physical pain is also registered and attended to. That’s when real healing begins.
When people feel heard, when they are able to communicate, they feel more hopeful that they will get better. They feel that they can begin to move forward. These are powerful tools that can and should be used in both pediatric and adult hospitals, don’t you think?
Here is the link to the Wilbert Foundation, to learn more about Bertie Bears.
Here is a link to a CNN story about the Spiritual Care Boards.
Consider mentioning these to your local hospital, or your congregation. It might be worth a sponsorship from your church, synagogue, or mosque.
More communication is needed in this world. So is more hope.