THE ENCHANTED ONES

Hospicediary.com is something of a nursing counterpart to my own blog. Amy Getter has been blogging since 2011. Her guest post below is about how pets are masters of the bedside vigil, providing comfort in various ways to their owners.

hospicediary

My mother always said that the animals were enchanted, and in another life they will be able to tell us, the humans, all the things that they know, though we give them so little credit. I hear people say, “Animals are very sensitive” and I’d like to add, I am pretty certain that animals really do know things that we, with all our evolutionary advancement, don’t!
I have a visual of a very ancient man, returning home from the hospital to die in his own living room, with his very ancient Great Pyrenees dog lying beneath his bed, only cajoled away for a few times a day, to eat something and to relieve himself outside, hurriedly returning to his master and the sentinel post beneath the bed. And today, another visual, of the King Charles Spaniel lying atop his beloved human mother, with his arms outstretched across her, his face…

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A Student Prank

Usually my stories are true, but one time as a gag I wrote a fictitious dialog, putting one over my chaplain school supervisor and the other chaplain interns. I dated the dialog April 1st, but nevertheless they were fooled. The heart of the program at the school (called Clinical Pastoral Education) was for students to write word for word as accurately as they could remember, some of their visits to patients. Afterwards with our supervisor, we would analyze the dialogues and look for ways we could serve patients better in the future. As the true dialogs I wrote are too full of embarrassing flaws from me as a rookie chaplain, I now share this invented story to amuse you and to give you a taste of what it was like to be a chaplain intern.

                               The Dialogue

(Context of visit) I was on my regular rounds at Cornell University Medical Center when I visited Norman. The patient was seated on his bed, with a bandage near his elbow. As I enter, he is reading A Farewell to Arms. I notice a fixed look in his eyes. One of the social workers had told me that Norman is a “strange bird.”

Karen: Good morning. I’m Chaplain Kaplan.

Norman: Oh, are you and Charlie Chaplin related? Then you’d be Chaplain Chaplin. (K: I laugh. that SW had something there.) You won’t believe why I’m in here. It’s kinda ridiculous really.

Karen: No, no, not at all. Tell me your story.

Norman: You’ll think I’m pulling your leg. It’s not important enough for being in a serious hospital.

Karen: Not important enough?

Norman: I’m here because a cat helped itself to a portion of my arm for lunch. (K: I grimace  and say, ooh, ouch!) Now see that?  Here I am now having to comfort the chaplain.

Karen: (Oops. What went wrong here? I was trying to reflect back his feelings and show some empathy.) Oh, it’s not that. I…

Norman: Well, I’ll give you another chance. (K: How nice of this clown and out loud I say, “Oh, I see.) Anyway, this arm hurts like hell. And you know what? I’ve been a major patron of the Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals for many a year. But after what that worthless scrawny tabby did to me, that’s it.

Karen: That’s it?

Norman: No more donations from Yours Truly to the SPCA. Not from this victim.

Karen: So you feel betrayed. Bit to the quick. Angry.

Norman: Sure! There should be a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans.

Karen: (Is this guy for real? I laugh. I join in the fantasy.) I wonder how many dogs and cats would join?

Norman: (Is this girl for real?) This has gotta be the most unusual conversation I’ve ever had.

Karen: (as he dozes off, I make my getaway.)

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In my next post, I will follow up with a theological analysis and an evaluation. No, no, just joking.

 

A Dog’s and a Cat’s Take on “Disenfranchised Grief”

Even though I was being made fun of, I was flattered that animal news writer Melissa Stoneburner mentioned my last week’s post about a pet ceremony in examiner.com, a blog that boasts  of having “20 million monthly readers.” With readership like that, I’d be hard-put to complain about my blog name getting in print, short of defamation of character. She characterized the ceremony, which some 40 dogs and one cat attended, with the headline, http://www.examiner.com/article/first-nyc-non-denominational-pet-blessing. She paraphrased me as saying, “if a person grieves the loss of their pet, the big term that other humans have given this is ‘disenfranchised grief.’ What? And what?”

Alright there, Melissa. You just brace yourself. My thirty-three faithful readers and I are all lined up ready to do battle. (At least I’m pretty sure that they are.)  Apparently you thought I was being pedantic. Harrumph! As champion of the disenfranchised, be they voters, restaurant chains or grievers, I hereby will now defend the use of the expression, “disenfranchised grief.” All you had to do is talk with any of the dozens of animals there. Buster for example would have told you, “You betcha that people grieving over pets is dismissed. Haven’t you heard people snicker over the idea of a pet cemetery? And when I mention there are pet hospices, most people think I’m all-out  kidding. And my biggest PET peeve, practically before our precious bodies have gone cold, is when they tell owners, ‘Oh, don’t be sad. You can get another dog.’ What are we, stuffed animals?” Molly then might have added, “OW! Meow! How would you like it if someone in your family died and your clothed-friends said, ‘Oh well, you can get another. With 7 billion humans, a replacement shouldn’t be a problem.’ Just put yourself in my paws and you’ll see why I’m so CATegorically insulted.”

Just you wait, examiner.com.”Disenfranchised grief” is merely offbeatcompassion’s  initial assault.  I and my minions will now overwhelm you with my impenetrable arsenal of other terms: “complicated grief,” “Conflicted mourning,” “high-risk factors” and “inhibited grief.” So there! And there! And there!