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Costs of being a chaplain that our family pays (Compassion Fatigue of Families)

People frequently ask me how I do what I do, working with families in crisis. I usually akwardly say something about it being an honor, it is hard and I can't think of doing something else. It also usually ends up with them talking about the cost to me either emotionally, physically, spiritually.

While I do appreciate their concerns and interest in what I do, I also think about the cost that my family pays due to my calling or choice to do what I do. In my case my wife choose to marry me with some idea that I might end up doing this, my kids did not make that choice, they were just brought into the situation.

I know the costs, being absent from family events, whether emotionally or physically. Not able to always respond with compassion or empathy because I may have used all what I had that day before I get home. Not being able to think creatively to solve the problem between my two children or just have fun, because I have used up the creativity for the day.

What do you do? What practices do you use to mitigate or lessen the costs? As this discussion hopefully builds perhaps we can learn from each other and better take care of ourselves and our families as we try to take care of those we serve professionally.


John LeMay

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