Ten years ago I thought I wanted to be a midwife. It had been a long-held dream and I secured a place at university to do the training. I left after a year, the demands of the training programme with a young family emotionally broke me.
It took a long time to get over the disappointment and grief that my dream didn’t work out and as part of healing that sadness, I turned deeper into my spiritual beliefs. After a few years of trying other things, I found my way into working as a celebrant and loved it. I found great joy in officiating weddings and a deep fulfilment in supporting grieving families with funerals. By this time I was also acting as a priest in my faith community and providing ceremonies and pastoral support.
I wanted to extend my work with grief and the end of life, and a couple of years ago I was invited to join the spiritual care team at another West Midlands hospice as a volunteer. I felt like I had finally found my purpose after a long time searching. At the beginning of 2021, I was delighted to start in my role as the Spiritual Care Co-ordinator at John Taylor.
I strongly believe that we are all holistic beings, a combination of the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. End of life care is not only about caring for the physical body in its last days, but is also about supporting a person’s spiritual and emotional self as well.
People who have been on long and difficult journeys with illness and pain often lose their grip on the other aspects of themselves. Life becomes focused on the physical and the medical. I see my role as being someone who can take the time to remind people of who they are beyond the illness and pain. To help them remember what is sacred and important to them, which is often thrown into sharp relief when they realise they are dying.
For some people that might be about reminding them of a love of music and singing that has slipped away. For others it might be about refinding their connection with their God. For many it is about a chance to have their stories heard, to make sense of things that have happened in their lives and to not come to the end feeling that there are things left unsaid or undone. My job is to listen to those stories and hold them without judgement. It is an enormous privilege to be alongside people at the end of their life’s journey.