A Hospital Chaplain Reflects on Poetry and Dying

Some of my poetry reflects on dying and the fragility of our bodies. This story was also a thought-provoking and touching bit of writing.

Longreads

A few weeks later, my friend sends me a copy of Dunn’s poem “A Coldness.” The speaker says about his sick brother, “From then on he was delusional, / the cancer making him / stupid, insistently so, and lost. / I wanted him to die. / And I wished his wife / would say A shame / instead of God?s will. Or if God / had such a will, Shame on Him.”

I’ve found the lines about cursing God, “Shame on Him,” to be true. My supervisor had told us—me and my fellow chaplain interns—that we might find it appropriate to tell a patient that it’s all right to be angry at God. It takes me a while to say this to someone because a lot of my patients believe that to question God is to curse her very nature. They believe it’s God’s will for them to suffer. Some…

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