Sunday, July 24, 2011


Let's be honest.  CPE is hard.  Not as horrible as the middlers made it sound (no offense, friends), but it is hard. 

I realized yesterday that I'm starting to feel pretty tired from the summer.  This seems alright, since I only have two weeks of CPE left, the last of which will be spent doing evaluations and such.  So, I esentially have one week of CPE left.  It's been nine weeks of non-stop chaplaincy.  On an average day, I document that I've had conversations with over thirty people.  That's not including the many brief conversations that I don't document.  It also feels rather simple to write just the room number, patient's name, some code to describe our "pastoral care" and how much time we spent with them.  It looks like this:

215  Joe Smith  3  60mins

What that doesn't tell you is that I was with Joe Smith for 60 minutes because of a death.  His death.  It doesn't describe the tears that I've shed while trying to rub Joe's daughter's back or the way that my head just feels heavy.  It doesn't describe trying to figure out what words in the English language can possibly convey the pain that I'm feeling with Joe's loved ones. 

This has been the hardest part of CPE for me: the after-math.  I am fully present with a patient and the family, but I return to the office and try to get my head around the fact that I just watched a person die.  I wish had some profound thoughts on this, since it may just seem like I'm storing up my "CPE is horrendous!" stories for the incoming juniors at LSTC.  I'll just keep watching the sunsets of people's lives and wondering how to understand the way the colors all blend together to make Joe who he is, as his daughters gather around him.

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