Wednesday, May 26, 2010

google chaplain

I had only been at work a few minutes when I got called to a death.  Mr. Mujallah had spoken with a nurse during breakfast.  She told him she would come back and get his tray.  When she walked in twenty minutes later he was on the floor and not breathing.

I waited with a nurse and doctor outside his room for his children to arrive.  His two sons were tall and dark and in shock. They were dismissive and abrupt with me.  I wondered if it was a "we don't like women" thing or a more probably a"we just lost our dad unexpectedly" thing.  I waited outside the room.

After a while the nurse called me in.  "They don't seem to want an autopsy to figure out what happened.  I don't know why."  I had a tiny flashback from our Spiritual Care for the Islamic Culture class and remembered something about nonautopsying.  When the doctor started discussing the autopsy again I asked the family if they would prefer not to for religious reasons.  They nodded vigorously.  I was promoted to "person to be tolerated."

The Mujallahs told me that they were not particularly religious, but wanted their father to be buried at a Mosque.  Perferably the one that their mother had been buried in two years ago in driving distance, but they couldn't remember the name or the exact town.

So I did what any good chaplain would do.  I googled.  I borrowed a computer from the nursing station and googled mosques within a 50 mile radius.  This is South Carolina.  It couldn't be that hard.  I came up with a surprising five mosques, four with pictures which I printed off.  The Mujallahs immediately recognized one of them.  "That's it!".  We had our mosque.  I was now the "very helpful lady."

The next hurdle was the funeral home.  Muslims strive to bury the deceased as soon as possible after death, avoiding the need for embalming or otherwise disturbing the body of the deceased.  We needed to find a funeral home that would take Mr. Mujallah right away and get him to our mosque by night fall.  We called three funeral homes before finding one that would accomodate our needs.  At this point I became "our chaplain."

With everything decided, the still-in-shock family was ready to leave.  I walked them to the elevator and we said a warm goodbye.  As I walked back upstairs to check in with the nursing staff, I realized that very little actual spiritual care had happened.  I hadn't hugged them or listened to stories of their dad.  I hadn't prayed with them or for them.  But I had tried to be there with them.  Sometimes people need chaplain/priest or chaplain/friend.  The Mujallahs needed chaplain/googler.

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  Luke 11:9


  1. you were able to give the wonderful comfort of understanding and help in a time of need-just what was needed.. M6

  2. Oh yes! Great post. Chaplian googler! That's so you. good job. apparantly women can be helpful. who knew? (though you didn't have your head covered, tisk tisk)

  3. our God of Surprises keeps showing up in unique and various ways - in pluralistic grace-filled and compassionate moments. your presence with this family warms my heart. well done, faithful servant!