Liberty Hospice chaplain Mike Sides provides spiritual guidance and companionship for patients and their families during end-of-life care. He said sometimes his job means doing what may seem like simple things, but often, those things can make a big difference.
“We are really there to listen to the patients,” he said. “We allow them to express their feelings and emotions. Sometimes, that can be difficult for them around their family, because they don’t want to upset them when they aren’t feeling well. But they know they can tell me how they are really feeling, and it just helps sometimes to be able to say those things out loud.”
That valued companionship can also mean just talking to patients about their interests. Some patients may be interested in the Atlanta Braves or their favorite college football team, and other patients enjoy simply singing old Bible hymns.
“You can really see them, and their families, light up when they sing,” he said. “It really warms people’s hearts to share those moments together. I just try to help them during a difficult time, and help families get closer together.”
Sides said that spiritual discussions also assist many patients, and said chaplains can serve as “ambassadors to God.” He said patients just need a little encouragement sometimes, and just want to have a feeling of value.
“We all want to know that our lives were worth something and that we meant something to somebody,” he said. “I just help them to understand the great value that their life has meant and remind them of all they have done.”
He said doing that, and bringing families together, are two of the most rewarding aspects to his job at Liberty Hospice.
“No one’s tombstone says ‘I wish I worked more,’ he said. “When we look back on our lives, we always look back on those times with our family and friends, and wish we could do that more often. Being a hospice chaplain gives me the chance to help those patients and their families spend their remaining time together, and help them ensure that those last few moments are special too.”