Friday, June 22, 2007

What Do You Say....

I'm presently doing CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) for the summer. One of the Chaplain Residents showed me a poem that Kathie Rataj Mayo, a mother who lost her child at birth at this hospital, wrote in response to heartless, tactless platitudes spoken to her.

What do you say when a baby dies and someone says...
"At least you didn't bring it home."
What do you say when a baby is stillborn and someone says...
"At least it never lived."
What do you say when a mother of three says...
"Think of all the time you'll have."
What do you say when so many say...
"You can always have another..."
"At least you never knew it..."
"You have your whole life ahead of you..."
"You have an angel in heaven."
What do you say when someone says...Nothing?
What do you say when someone says...
"I'm sorry."
You say, with grateful tears and warm embrace,
"Thank you!"


Allan R. Bevere said...


Great poem!


Along the Narrow Path said...

Excellent poem and so true.

Andrew C. Thompson said...


It would be great to hear your reflections on CPE when you get a chance. I'm interested to hear what benefits and/or frustrations you have had in your own experience with the CPE process.

In my experience, I found it very helpful to pastoral care and counseling, not to mention the insight into my own inner workings. But I also found its overly-heavy reliance on psychological paradigms to be limiting and, at times, frustrating for its social scientific reductionism.

the reverend mommy said...

That's a BIG Amen.

There is nothing like saying "I'm sorry" and then just sitting with a person to share their pain.

And Andrew, there is more than one paradigm in CPE -- there's "old school" and "current trends" (for lack of better labels.) The Old School was way heavy on psychological crap -- current trends in thought tend more to spirituality and connection to God. (About time, too.)