Member’s Review, by Karen Murphy
The subtitle of Rosie’s book is “A chaplain’s reflections on death, dying and pastoral care”, and I feel it is a book long overdue in its exploration of a chaplain’s experience. Rosie acknowledges this in her opening words and describes how she has attempted to blend in reflections from her personal experience and the experiences of pastoral work.
This is a thoughtful, sensitive book with many personal insights shared alongside reflections on experiences with patients and families that many of us in chaplaincy will recognise. In many ways, it is an answer to the perennial questions from those who aren’t sure what we are about. “What does a chaplain do?” Rosie draws deeply from stories of encounters that have brought joy and challenges, describing with great care the effect of these encounters up on her personal theology and wellbeing.
Chaplaincy is a unique way of working alongside people who are challenged by life’s experiences and it feels so helpful to have a resource that acknowledges the challenges that chaplains encounter in our daily work. As Rosie says, chaplains in hospice work especially, come face to face with death and dying more consistently then most people do in a lifetime. This continued exposure to grief and sadness needs to be thought about with care for our own wellbeing. It is easy to begin to see the world from rather skewed perspective at times and Rosie explores this feeling from her experience.
This book offers practical insights into how to meet certain situations that chaplains encounter as well as some thoughtful processing of ideas, themes and emotions that are raised by the work we do.
Rosie’s contribution to the literature around death, dying and chaplaincy is warmly welcomed by her chaplaincy colleagues in the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains and I commend it to anyone engaged in, or thinking about, chaplaincy for the future.