There are a few staff in the hospital, especially among the doctors, who think I shouldn’t be there. They see me as an anachronism.

A figure from another age only fit for prayers and the “last rites” (whatever they are). They have never actually said it, of course, but I see it in their eyes.

So let me tell you what I do. When you have finished prodding and poking and injecting; I am there to stand with the patient who is going through a horrid time: giving time and space to listen to them express their feelings.

When you have given the bad news and gone on to the many others on your list, I am there to give what you can’t – the gift of time. And during that time the patient can talk about plans and feeling or we can just sit in silence.

When you have said: “There is nothing more we can do,” I am there giving time and understanding to the patient and their family. Listening to the story of this person’s life and knowing that I am only seeing a small fraction of what they have done and of who they are.

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And when you have finally said: “I am afraid they have died,” I am there to hold the hand of grieving relatives; to see their tears and to be tender to them.

This could be my Mom, Dad, Daughter, or Granddaughter who has passed.

Speaking, listening, silence, weeping: it’s all the same to me. Being there is what counts.

Giving time is what matters. Showing that this person is not just an NHS number to be processed but a real person with physical and emotional and spiritual needs.

And when you too are broken, hurting emotional, stressed; I am there for you to; to offer exactly the same thing.

Many, many of our staff know this, so I am talking to only the very few.

So let me say that I respect your skills and learning. I am amazed at the things you are able to do and value them.

All I ask is that you value what chaplaincy brings to our hospitals.