COVID - 19: BEING A HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN IN TESTING TIMES

- Rev Dr Sangkhuma Hmar

My job is to provide a range of services including visits to patients, providing pastoral and spiritual care to families and patients who are at the end of their lives and bereavement to those who have sadly passed away.


Throughout the covid -19 pandemic, I have continued to minister the sick and the bereaved in challenging circumstances. I have undergone special training and worn personal protection equipment (PPE) over my clerical shirt and dog collar. There is some personal risk but I don't really think about that. I think this is what christians should be doing; helping, supporting, listening and being on the journey with others.

I wanted to share with you briefly what this time has been for me.

Seeing patients to go through this unthinkable ordeal is heartbreaking and painful.They have not seen their family in weeks and feel isolated and lonely. Families are at home waiting to hear from the hospital and they will often feel helpless. Staff are dealing with extremely stressful situations that change every day. As a chaplain in such an unusual time, it is my role to try to support patients and staff and to make space for them to share their fears and feelings. I am also supporting the staff dealing with the emotional challenges and end of life care as they find themselves needing to be mindful of the spiritual and emotional needs of patients. The psychological and emotional repercussions for doctors and nurses would outlast the pandemic. I also support staff either by offering a listening ear as they discuss their working day or to talk about more personal issues. 

Again, it is important to support staff: they feel they need to appear to be stronger. Everybody is waiting, how will it come, what will it look like, and they are the same as patients; they have got family and children. The common concerns have been anxiety, what will the UK look like after this, job security, mortgages, families and relationships. But my conversation with staff, have not all been filled with anxiety and worry. Many are grateful they have got a job, grateful they are going into work, feel they fulfil their purpose and appreciate the noble works that they are doing.

In addition to supporting christian patients, I go an extra mile to support people of other faiths of BAME (Muslims have their own chaplains), as well as patients who do not have a religious belief but who would like someone to talk to. Remember, spirituality is not about a belief in God, it is whatever brings meaning to your life. I offer empathetic listening, a faithful presence, space to talk about patients' life stories or I help patients to discover renewed meaning in their lives and spiritual peace.

Please continue to pray for me, and other chaplains as we provide support for patients and staff in Heath, Llandough, Neath Port Talbot and Morriston hospitals in South Wales during trying times. Let us pray for doctors,nurses and carers who sacrifice their lives as front liners. We owe them all a debt of gratitude!

(Rev Dr Sangkhuma Hmar, orginally from Mizoram, now lives in Cardiff, Wales, UK)






(A hnuaia fakna hi lo hmet ve rawh.)

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1 Comments

  1. What an incredible story indeed! Thanks for sharing your ministry. I could see that even in normal times chaplaincy is one of the most " behind the scenes", demanding job on call like you 24/7 with the need to always be available for the staff and patients.

    I can't begin to imagine and think about what it must be like in these difficult times, where you are needed more than ever.

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