As a chaplain, I work with a wide variety of individuals. Some wish to have spiritual care, while others seek connection with a faith community leader. I have found that everyone is spiritual but not everyone is religious. My job requires me to listen and meet people where they are or where they would like to be. Sometimes the care I provide is sharing scripture and prayer. Other times, I’m there as a support person.
Missoula has a large medical community that has long been on the forefront of end-of-life care. When I think of how an end-of-life center will improve a dying individual’s experience, the first thing that comes to mind are patients in the hospital who wish to go home but may not have the level of care at home needed to support their needs, such as an elderly spouse who can no longer safely care for them. The warm, comforting surroundings of an end-of-life center with healthcare professionals who provide symptom management alongside the option of spiritual and psychological support would vastly improve the end-of-life experience for so many.
I look forward to our community having another resource for grief support as well. Many people dying today during COVID-19 have died without families present or with very little time to say a proper in-person goodbye, and it’s a crying shame. We are in for a major onslaught of complicated grief over the next few years with people who were separated from loved ones as they were dying. An end-of-life center with support services and resources for those people will make a big difference as they deal with long-term grief.