A Chaplain: “Being There” until the Last Breath

Chaplain David Carey and his family

“For me, God has taken away the sting of death,” says David Carey, a full-time hospice chaplain in Maine. “And because of that, I am able to minister to the spiritual needs of those who are terminally ill, along with their families.”

Because death often raises questions and fears in both the patient and family members, a hospice chaplain joins the palliative care team, serving as a presence of Christ, ready to offer hope, encouragement, peace, and the love of God. When appropriate, the chaplain offers distinctively Christian care, such as prayer, Scripture reading, hymns, and spiritual songs. Frequently, the most important gifts of the chaplain are “being there” and listening with compassion.

“When we moved from Virginia to Maine 3 years ago, we experienced culture shock. Mainers—residents of Maine—tend to be proud and independent and slow to accept outsiders.

“In addition, older generations may have had exposure to God, biblical truth, and church as children, but they have left that all behind—and spiritual coldness prevails.

“I quickly learned that I needed to grow intentionally in Christlikeness in order to share Christ effectively in this new culture. At the same time, I needed God’s patience as I dealt with my own anxieties. I have been humbled and blessed in caring for those nearing the end of life.”

In June 2019, the governor of Maine signed the Death with Dignity Act, allowing qualified individuals to make a request for medication prescribed to end a person’s life. Pray for David as he serves even those who may choose “death with dignity.” He declares, “I am there to minister until the person’s last breath.”

David and his wife, Sherrill, have 5-year-old twins, Jaxson and Seth, who are highly functional on the autism spectrum. They ask for prayer as they seek services for the boys and as they anticipate the boys beginning school in the fall.

Georgia Herod has responded to God’s call to use her interest and expertise in editing and writing in this season of life.

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