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Chaplains in pediatric hospitals are clinically trained in the spiritual issues of childhood and adolescent illnesses. Hospital chaplains focus on a family’s spiritual well-being.
“Spiritual” refers to the human need to:
Chaplains offer care for patients and families honoring their faith and path to spirituality. This includes those who:
Chaplains help the whole family. When your child’s health changes, it affects everyone. A chaplain can help you explore how faith, spirituality, and thoughts can be a source of strength and comfort. Chaplains can help families make peace with the unknown and find hope.
Chaplains serve families with sensitivity to:
Learning your child has a serious illness is a major life change. It may cause you to reassess your belief system.
It can be a grieving process. You may be hurt by the loss of your healthy child.
Chaplain Elizabeth Hawkins uses mindfulness, meditation, and spiritual care to help children and families in the hospital. Learn how these techniques can help your child.
Chaplains can also work one-on-one with children and teens. Teens may need to share feelings and experiences with a trusted adult who is not a parent. They may fear their true feelings will upset their parents.
Often a chaplain’s main role is to be an objective companion. Chaplains listen without judgment.
They can confirm what you are feeling is shared by others going through the same journey. Chaplains can also help you examine any disturbing thoughts you may be having.
Chaplains can pray with you and for you. They can perform rituals and sacraments from your faith. Chaplains can put you in touch with local religious and spiritual centers or clergy from your tradition.
A chaplain may be assigned to your child’s care team. If you are not sure, ask your care team. Most hospitals have chaplains on call 24 hours a day. The department where they work may be called Spiritual Care, Pastoral Care, Chaplaincy, or a related name.
Reviewed: November 2022