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Spiritual Care at the end of life

winter 2016

From triple helix - winter 2016 - Spiritual Care at the end of life [p20-21]

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The Chaplain as a 'Hopeful Presence'
Steve Nolan

Jessica Kingsley, 2015, £18.99, 360pp, ISBN 9781849051996

Reviewed by Gareth Tuckwell, formerly of Burrswood Christian Hospital, now Regional Director of Macmillan Cancer Support

Within your working life, have you ever felt that you had nothing to offer when faced with a dying person or their family? This book is invaluable if you find yourself alongside someone who is dying.

The reader is drawn into a series of moments between a chaplain and a person who is dying. The author reflects with rich learning that is not only well researched but authentic. He develops his theory of the chaplain as a 'hopeful presence' - a presence that moves from a transference-loaded first contact to a hope-enhancing relationship.

Nolan encourages us that, when our therapeutic armoury is exhausted, what we have to offer relationally can be even more important. A personcentred relationship with the dying person often has a transforming therapeutic dynamic. At the heart of good end-of-life care is having the courage to be a loving 'presence' as much as controlling symptoms.

The balance between professionalism and humanity is never an easy ride. Can we be both professional and human whilst bringing the light and love of Jesus into our relationships? How do we enable the person who is sick to be the person they need to be?



Article written by Gareth Tuckwell

More from triple helix: winter 2016

  • Christmas: the miracle of the incarnation
  • NIPT
  • The Sustainable Development Goals one year on
  • PrEP
  • Sex education programmes are largely ineffectual
  • Wear your values
  • Supporting colleagues in challenging times
  • Finance in the early years
  • NHS in crisis
  • Boundary stones in bioethics
  • Gender and social change
  • Overcoming stress and burnout
  • Spiritual Care at the end of life
  • Pressed but not crushed
  • The Heart and the Abyss
  • Heart Attitudes
  • Dementia: Pathways to Hope
  • Lessons from a hospital bed
  • Inventing the Universe
  • The Life you Never Expected
  • eutychus
  • A patient I should have cried over
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