This is the second entry in my hospital chaplain series. In it, I’m revisiting some of the experiences I had while fulfilling my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) unit at Overlook Hospital (Summit, NJ). To orient yourself as to the purpose, the context and tone of the series, it’ll be helpful to read the first entry “A Story about Holding Hands.” The following entry is a truncated account, and only touches on some of the events and the surrounding issues. I hope, though, that this short piece draws out some of the reader’s own struggles and that it helps point the reader toward some possible ways of processing them and finding hope.
I could never get used to visiting the Intensive Care Unit. The lighting in the area was dimmer than in the rest of the hospital, everyone spoke in hushed tones, and there was heaviness about the room that was so palpable it felt like I was wading through a thick emotional humidity when doing my rounds in the unit. I didn’t necessarily dread visiting the ICU; I just had to prepare myself for it. In fact, in a way, I looked forward to doing my rounds there. The unit offered an experiential landscape that I’d never previously explored—one that was not replicated anywhere else in the hospital or in my life.