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My Experience as a Trauma Chaplain Helped Me Fight Anxiety

Identifying our fears can better help us pastor ourselves and others better.
My Experience as a Trauma Chaplain Helped Me Fight Anxiety
Image: Illustration by Rick Szuecs / Source images: CiydemImages / Getty / Clément H / Unsplash

I was 24 and a week into marriage when I walked into my first intensive care unit as a trauma chaplain. I had never seen a dead body before. I had never experienced deep grief before. Within two hours of my first day on the job—a 28-hour overnight shift—I was standing in a room with a dozen screaming people. Their mother had suddenly died on the surgery table; the doctor and nurses had just ushered the family into the room to give the news. I showed up about three minutes later to utter mayhem: wailing and flailing, one person hitting her head against the wall in a steady rhythm, another dry heaving into a trashcan. I felt completely detached, like I was watching a scene from a movie. I remember thinking, “At least the doctors and nurses are here, they will know what to do.” But within a minute, they were gone. It was just me and the distraught family. I wonder if they were thinking, “At least the chaplain is here, he will know what to do.”

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May/June
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