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How to Say Goodbye to Loved Ones

Hospice chaplain John Wenderlein

Hospice chaplain John Wenderlein joins Suzanne to talk about learning how to have the conversations to say goodbye to our loved ones at the end of their lives.

There’s often a denial process with family members. John says, “Even though a doctor has told you six months, mother and dad are getting ready to pass. So there’s a big fight. I don’t mean a physical fight or a verbal fight, I mean an emotional struggle, and it doesn’t happen so much with the patient because many times they’ve been sick for a while, it happens with the family. One of our struggles in the hospice business is to get all that paperwork correct, and [families] just don’t want to hear it.

“My role is a role people are a little confused about. You have the doctor, you have a nurse, you have a worker… But when the chaplain walks through the door, it becomes real. It becomes real for the family, it becomes real for the patient. So, as a chaplain, I have to be careful how I initially meet them. My job is to keep the spiritual strength up and keep the conversation as light as possible.

“Many of the medical questions are answered by the nurses, are answered by our literature. We hand out literature that says these are the signs. Don’t be confused if your mother or father seems to be getting better before they get worse. Don’t be surprised if there’s changes in the skin — touch, texture or skin color. And of course, with memory and things like that, don’t be surprised that he or she’s going to have those moments and talk about that vacation 20 years ago.”

Learn more about John Wenderlein:
* Remember Me: End of Life as Seen through the Eyes of a Hospice Chaplain https://www.amazon.com/Remember-Me-through-Hospice-Chaplain/dp/B0CGL5V4KZ
* Delayed Honor https://www.amazon.com/Delayed-Honor-John-Kirn-Wenderlein/dp/B0CTXB6M22
* John’s website: https://www.remembermejw.com/

Hear more:
* End of life podcasts at Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/tag/end-of-life/

Answers for Elders is part of the Senior Resource Network: https://www.seniorresource.com/
Check out our affiliate podcast Alzheimer’s Speaks: https://alzheimersspeaks.com/