Thoughts From A Small Chapel

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I am sitting inside a memorial chapel while the sun rays peeking through the high window is shining directly on my face that I’m basking in the sunlight. That’s alright, perhaps the sunshine will keep me awake as I just came from a 24-hour hospital duty and had less than 2 hours of sleep. Though I had time to go home for a quick shower and changed from my scrubs into a black suit.

I am trying not to stare at the open casket at the front, instead I am looking beyond through the glass panels at the façade of the chapel, where I could see the trees with birds perched on their bare branches, and the patches of snow on the ground that is melting.

I am listening to the minister who is delivering some comforting words especially for the family of the departed. He said that brother Bob, a member of our church, is not suffering anymore. He has no more pain. No more affliction.

It is true, brother Bob has been sickly lately. Besides his advanced age, he was also battling some form of cancer. He got too weak that he has to be moved from an independent living into a nursing home, which really saddened him. He died about a month after he was moved to the nursing home.

Brother Bob is now resting in the Lord, the pastor said, and there is blessed peace and hope beyond life here on earth. This goodbye is only temporary as we would see him again in that glorious morning, he added.

I wish this message of the pastor can be heard by the families of the patients I admitted to the ICU last night.

It was a busy call. I admitted 8 patients overnight in the ICU in addition to taking care of the 18 patients we already have. Though some of my admissions needed to ‘rest’ and not suffer anymore.

There was a woman who has lung cancer and severe COPD. Every breath is a struggle. She was just in the ICU few days ago as she required intubation and mechanical ventilation. Now she’s failing once more and would require mechanical ventilation again.

Then there was a man with history of devastating stroke who now resides in a nursing home. He is not awake and cannot talk. He is confined to a bed for a couple of years. He cannot even eat and needs a feeding tube in his stomach to get nutrition. He is now admitted to the ICU due to aspiration pneumonia as he cannot even clear his saliva.

Then there’s another woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease that she does not interact with the outside world anymore. She has been in a memory care of a nursing facility for a while. She is hospitalized because of a severe infection and transferred to the ICU as she is in septic shock.

I am not saying that we should not treat these people anymore. But there comes a time that the best course of care is letting go. I hope patients and their families realize that.

I believe that there is peace and there is a better state beyond this life as the pastor said. Where there will be no more pain. No more tears. No more suffering. Somewhere way above the clouds.

Photo by Vishal Shah on


  1. As a chaplain in a hospital, I share your views and thoughts, Doc.
    Pero, iba din po pala kapag malapit sa iyo ang nasa gayong kalagayan. Lalo na po ako ang lalagda sa waiver. Help me pray for an elderly priest confined here. God bless you, Doc.

    1. True it is hard to let go to someone you really love. However for families who sees their love ones every day and are the one directly taking care of them, they may see it easier to let them rest. However for families that relegated the care of their loved one to an institution like a nursing home, they are detached, and may not see the suffering everyday, and they are just keeping them ‘alive’ for the sake of it. Besides medical insurance is paying for the care.

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