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Breathing Wind


Jun 1, 2021

Are chaplains only for religious or spiritual people? In this episode, Deborah talks with Jeffrey Ishmael, a chaplain on the outpatient palliative care team at John Muir health in Walnut Creek, CA, about the role of the chaplain in palliative care, his perspectives having worked in this role, and how this work connects to grief and suffering.

This episode is part of a Breathing Wind miniseries titled Embrace Death, Live Life, hosted by ICU and palliative care nurse, Deborah Szeto. The Embrace Death, Live Life miniseries explores the work of palliative care in healing and how we can live fuller lives while embracing and normalizing death. 

Jeffrey and Deborah talk about how:

  • The role of a chaplain transcends much more than religion/spirituality (although that is still important)
  • As a society, we have become removed from and fearful of death; it feels sterile and foreign
  • Palliative care is about relieving suffering, finding meaning, promoting quality of life
  • We have to start normalizing conversations about medical goals and end-of-life wishes

Episode Length: 36 mins.

  • [2:54] Chaplaincy: What it is and role in patient care
  • [7:49] Jeffrey’s story in how he became a chaplain
  • [14:20] It’s all about grief
  • [19:56] How Jeffrey encourages patients to think about life and legacy
  • [23:45] How the palliative care team works with patients to improve quality of life
  • [24:44] Misunderstandings about palliative care
  • [29:48] How to have the end of life conversation with loved ones

To find out more about this episode and subscribe to the newsletter, visit the show notes.

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