The irate man in the oncology wing had been tossing people out of his room all morning. Two devoted volunteers tapped lightly on the half-opened door and heard a gruff, “What?” They peeked in, introduced themselves, told the man sitting on the bed they were there for him, and asked if he would like a visit. Another grumbled, unintelligible response came from the inner depths, but not a “No, go away.”
He was so angry he could spit nails! He ultimately confided that his whole identity revolved around his profession; he was a judge. What do judges do? They make rulings, pronounce judgments, control their courtrooms and uphold the law. They are totally in charge, but he had received a devastating diagnosis that day.
When a situation like this presents itself to our Healing Ambassadors, and it’s evident that one volunteer needs to stay with the patient and continue the conversation, the other teammate carries on with visits to the remaining patients on the unit. Edith stayed and asked if she could pull a chair close to his bed.
With gentle prompting, Edith invited him to express his anxiety (loudly at times) and release some of his anger while feeling secure. When she asked if he had family who would be visiting, he said yes, but not until that evening. He admitted he was also experiencing intense feelings of isolation. Edith assured him again that she would stay with him as long as he’d like.