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The gift of being entirely present

Last Modified: April 25, 2024

Healthy Mind, People of Parkview


This post was written by Dianna Teusch, lead chaplain, Parkview Health.

I wear many hats in this life. Most of us do. Mine include mom, sister, wife, pastor and chaplain. But sometimes, in times of great happiness (like a new baby) or great grief (like a death). the roles collide.

That happened recently when my son-in-law died. Due to my position as a staff chaplain, I visited with him about every day at the Parkview Heart Institute. Also, due to my experience as a chaplain, I observed (better than others in our family) that he was not improving. The progression of his illness was gut-wrenching.

The call came on my day off. It was time. I found myself walking hand in hand with my grieving husband. We entered a crowded room full of family in various stages of disbelief and acceptance. The staff quietly and professionally did their job.

I usually don’t cry. I often need to be the strong one. My emotions rarely get the best of me. But for the two hours we spent in his room, the earthquake in my heart and mind forced a storm of tears. I was not stoic. I was no longer a mom, wife, chaplain, pastor. I was just me. In some strange way, there was relief in that moment of intense emotional pain. I felt present. It was real. It was intense. It hurt. I hurt and joined in with the grief of those around me as we watched our loved one die.

I share all this to say: Our lives are busy. Our lives include many settings and many roles. Sometimes, we lose track of who we are. The separation between who we are and what we do widens. We feel more comfortable in spaces that have distinct rules and boundaries. While we can successfully perform, part of us is not engaged. That is okay, but not great. People around us need the gift of who we are, completely engaged. It brings comfort. It brings safety. It brings authenticity. It brings relationships. It brings all of us strength.

In those shattering moments, as I watched my son-in-law take his last breath, I realized that I was what my family needed. As the tears poured, I hugged and comforted, spoke with the wonderful staff and helped my family understand the process.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, remember you are God’s gift to that moment and to the people with you. Yes, you fill a role, but you, all of you, will bring the most to any situation. Whether it is a quiet moment at the beach or a stressful work meeting, God brought you to it and wants every part of you to be present.

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