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Wall Street Journal today features HealthCare Chaplaincy Network

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Today’s article “Help for the Ill or Grieving During the Holidays” in The Wall Street Journal explains how HealthCare Chaplaincy Network and other health care providers and bereavement counselors offer emotional support. An excerpt:

The stress of chronic illness, a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one can be painfully amplified during the holidays, when everyone seems to be enjoying the festivities and looking forward to ringing in a New Year.

Health-care providers, patient advocacy groups and bereavement counselors are in the midst of their own version of the holiday rush, as people seek help with physical, emotional and spiritual concerns that make it hard to experience the joys of the season.

“People don’t stop being sick and dying during the holidays, and everyone is under pressure to cope,” says the Rev. Eric Hall, a minister and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Health Care Chaplaincy in New York, which provides chaplaincy service to hospitals and online spiritual care resources for patients and families. “It can be difficult to come to grips with the joy of the season and the reality of illness and loss.”

The chaplaincy’s free Chat with a Chaplain service offers consultations with a chaplain via phone, email or video. In anticipation of a spike in holiday demand, it hosted a webinar for chaplains last week on how to provide comfort for illness and grief during the holidays. Among the topics: counseling cancer patients on how to handle social issues such as the need to avoid crowded gatherings due to chemotherapy’s effect on the immune system, and encouraging those who are ill to express their feelings to important people in their life to receive support.

Rev. Hall says individuals who reach out to the chat service may have a specific religious affiliation, or consider themselves, “spiritual but not religious.” Many are wrestling with how to find meaning and hope in illness, and fear about what comes next. The chaplaincy offers other online support such as a personal checklist to assess the level of spiritual distress, and a website, CantBelieveIHaveCancer.org, which allows users to submit a prayer request to chaplains who read them aloud and say prayers at their weekly meetings.

Read the entire article here.

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