Many parents find that talking with a chaplain can help during this time. Chaplains give spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members, friends, and staff members in our Nationwide Children’s Hospital NICUs.
Families in the NICU come from many different faith backgrounds. For some parents, their spiritual beliefs and practices are very important and help them get through difficult times. For other parents, they might be questioning their beliefs or wondering “why” this happened.
It is common for many parents go through a phase of “having it out” with a higher power. A great temptation of parents is to hold back their anger, disappointment and questions for God. Chaplains can give hurting parents permission to vent their feelings.
Chaplains also play a role in:
- Guiding faith
- Validating feelings
- Praying with families
- Helping to process possible spiritual dilemmas
Prolonged stays in the NICU can cause periods of spiritual distress where one’s belief system or values become disrupted. It can upset the basic beliefs of a person’s life, including sources of peace, meaning, and hope.
A family may have spiritual distress from trying to make meaning of an illness. They may feel a sense of emptiness. Although many face some sort of spiritual distress, it can lead to growth and healing.
Here are few tips to help relieve anxiety:
- Set aside quiet time for prayer and meditation
- Read sacred texts and uplifting books
- Go for a walk and enjoy nature
- Think positive
- Journal the shining moments of the day
- Look for ways to honor your desired rituals
- Surround yourself with spiritual friends
- Talk about your feelings with your clergy
As part of the healthcare team, professional chaplains have extensive education and clinical training in religion, theology, spirituality, ethics, and counseling. Chaplains are available around-the-clock to be a caring presence, offer spiritual and emotional support, and listen with openness and understanding.
Families, regardless of belief, unbelief or religious affiliation, are invited to call a chaplain. If parents do belong to a faith community, your spiritual leader is welcome to come visit you or your family at any time.