The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.
I wanted you to have a peaceful death, Susan. So did a lot of other people, which is why an oncology nurse first asked me to look in on you in ICU. You had just been transferred down from the third floor and your nurse was so concerned about you. She was under the impression that you and your family had refused a DNR order and wanted everything done to prolong your life.
There is definitely something to be said for that kind of peaceful, accepting, graceful death, so it was very hard for me to watch you dying. I hated to see you struggle. I hated to see you melting into a prayer for rest and peace one moment, crying with all your heart for God to cure you the next. Eyes open, completely aware, desperately fighting tooth and nail for every breath at the end. Dying without, it seemed, any peace, any acceptance, for you or your family. You broke my heart.
I had to be reminded by a very wise colleague that there was something deeply important to take away from this. I've struggled with it, and would like to honor you by telling you what I've learned.
Most simply, I've learned that your dying was about you, not about some notion of how people "should" die. I'm not saying that there isn't a rchness about dying with acceptance and with, if you will, open arms. But I see that it's not the only richness to be found in dying, or the only grace. You did not want to die, and why should you? You had a passionate desire for life. You wanted to beat the disease and you fought like a warrior. Your physical strength was draining away, but your will was never outmatched. You died exactly the way you needed to, being exactly the person you always had been.
That attitude is very hard for us who care for dying people, and certainly for me. I wanted everyone to recognize that, as I saw it, there's a time to stop fighting. A time to accept with grace our coming death, so that we all, patients, family, and staff, can use the time left to share our stories, support one another, and love the dying person through to whatever we believe comes after.
It wasn't important if the people around you were comfortable with your dying--we didn't have to be. Forgive me for failing to see the terrible beauty of your struggle, the power of life that blazed forth from you. You wrested every last moment from your life and left me in awe as well as sorrow. I honor you. What a will! What a passion for living! What strength! What a victory! If anyone beat a disease, Susan, it was you.
The above article, What is a Good Death? A Tribute to Susan and to Warriors Everywhere by Alexis L. Versalle was first published by the Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling (JPCC) , Spring-Summer 2004, Vol. 58, Nos. 1-2, p. 117. Published by the Journal of Pastoral Care Publications, Kutztown, PA.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 9:38 AM
Having accepted the role of CPSP Registrar I was eager to attend my
first Executive Committee meeting. The meeting was held at The
College of Preachers in Washington, DC. Upon arrival I felt as if I
had been transported back in time to the early eighteenth century.
What a gift to be given the opportunity to stay in this historic place
amidst its old world charm.
The meeting itself became an opportunity for the participants to
bring back to their Chapters the positive and revitalizing spirit that
made up the majority of this gathering. The energy level during the
meeting was affirming, but more importantly it was sincere. With
men and five women in attendance, we held lively discussions about our
past, our present and our future. Some of the topics we spoke about
were the upcoming plenary, the Accreditation Process, and, the
Certification of our members. There was something transformational
occurring for those in attendance which might become transformative -
to our whole community.
Life is mainly made up of little things. Although our gathering
was not large, our time together was anything but
insignificant. It was in the "paying attention" to the seemingly
small and often human things that helped us develop a course of
action. As a result I feel we are all more empowered to move forward.
Being aware that the slightest discouragement from outside oneself
can add to a poor vision of self, we realized that what we need as an
organization is not to be made up of people who offer advice or become
some shining example of how we are 'suppose to be', but to be a people
who are willing to move forward in our own unique direction toward the
What we are, and who we have become is only a state of being. It is
my hope that we chose to remain steadfast in our expectations
expecting only the good. For it is in our gathering that we can
recognize that we are capable of creating exactly what we have been
called to be; a community for the 'Recovery of Souls'.
For me CPSP continues to be a people of hope. We are a realistic
community with our eyes on where our goals ought to be, about who we
are, as a positive force in this world. We are about the people, the
work, our life, our relationships and ourselves.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 2:41 PM
CPSP owes a debt of gratitude to George Hull and Bill Carr for their record-keeping and accounting responsibilities they have so capably undertaken for the past several years. Between the two of them, they have taken care of the dues of our membership, and Bill has served as treasurer for longer than any other volunteer would have the patience to do so.
It was encouraging to attend the leadership meeting with Richard Liew, CPSP's new President and others this past June in Washington, D.C. By the end of the meeting, many came to the conclusion that they had something to offer to our organization. Hearing this from others encourages me to share a vision that I have for the office of Treasurer of CPSP.
A common concern expressed at the meeting was the need for better communication. What I will strive to do is provide clear communication concerning the treasurer's activities. For example, when a Convener (or their designee) sends me a check for dues, accreditation or other, I will email that person that I have received the funds and let them know how I am applying the funds to their chapter. I believe if I establish this pattern, and something is lost in the mail, then that Convener or designee will know something is out of the ordinary and we can seek a solution. Along this same line, I will send the Convener or their designee a status report of where their chapter members stand with their dues and payments.
One issue that has confused our Chapter and its members has centered on just exactly what are the fees and dues. As changes are approved, I will send out an updated dues and fee schedule to Conveners, stating what the changes are and explaining the reasons for the changes.
It is my hope that each member can find ways to improve our organization by focusing on what he/she can do for CPSP in their area of responsibility.
I'm Looking forward to serving as your Treasurer.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:05 AM