Hospice program to start

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Comforting family members and friends who are dying can be a challenge, said the Rev. Richard Brogan, chaplain for Hospice Ministries Inc. and project coordinator for Faith in Action.

Brogan recently scheduled the first of what he hopes will be many programs in the Natchez area to instruct potential volunteers in working in end-of-life situations.

Faith in Action, a national program of the nonprofit Hospice Ministries, holds the seminar in churches, Brogan said. The five-part program helps to familiarize participants with the process of dying, including these topics:

Email newsletter signup

4Hospice: A special kind of caring.

4Death: It&8217;s a family affair.

4Caring for your neighbor.

4The body can&8217;t last forever.

4Spiritual aspects of dying.

&8220;I will come to one or to a group of churches; we&8217;ll do it any way we can do it,&8221; Brogan said.

The first program in Natchez will be at Murray Temple, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 14.

&8220;I&8217;ll come and visit with the pastor or with the key person interested in being a volunteer,&8221; Brogan said.

The three or four hours of training include information about hospice in general, explaining how it&8217;s different from other patient care.

Hospice care centers on providing comfort and peace for terminally ill patients.

&8220;You want to be able to help the patient and the family look at the issues of death and dying and get the patient to rehearse the significance of their lives,&8221; Brogan said.

The Faith in Action program trains volunteers to be good listeners, he said.

The program also is an opportunity for participants to learn more about their own preferences about medical treatment, health-care decisions and last wishes they want family members to know, Brogan said.

&8220;People are more comfortable sitting with people they know talking about death,&8221; Brogan said. That is one reason Faith in Action works through churches.

Jeri Flinn, coordinator of volunteers for Hospice Ministries, which is based in the Jackson area but has an office in Natchez, said Faith in Action &8220;is a wonderful way for churches to go out in the community to help neighbors.&8221;

Hospice is a special kind of caring, Brogan said. Hospice is an organized way of caring for people who are terminally ill, including spiritual care.

&8220;You want to help the patient raise questions about their life and the meaning of the suffering,&8221; Brogan said.

Much of a person&8217;s life is &8220;buried like an onion. There are layers to be peeled back.&8221;

The main goals of Hospice are to help patients die with dignity, in comfort and with peace, he said.

As a chaplain, Brogan has seen patients struggling to find significance in their lives. &8220;We try to help them understand who they are, what the disease helps them to find out about themselves.&8221;

Providing spiritual care for dying patients is key to his role as chaplain. &8220;Sometimes it takes the bed to make us see who we are, to say, &8216;I&8217;m grateful, forgive me and I&8217;ve not been all I could be,&8217;&8221; Brogan said.

The patient learns to say goodbye to one thing and hello to something else, he said.

&8220;I believe people die when they are ready to go. We try to help them deal with the issues they have postponed,&8221; he said.

Flinn said Hospice workers see many different types of deaths. &8220;Like births, some of the deaths are beautiful,&8221; she said. &8220;What we try to do is take the patients to the gates and hand them over to God.&8221;

More information on the Faith in Action program is available by calling Hospice Ministries at 800-273-7724; or 601-898-1053, extension 310.