Accounting for the Unaccountable
Making Sense of Extra-Ordinary Experiences in Hospitals
Keywords:Chaplaincy, extra-ordinary experience, narrative, nursing, spirituality
Chaplains are familiar with patient narratives which recount “extra-ordinary” experiences. These may include a vision or awareness of a deceased person. It may take other forms of description which do not fit into day-to-day discourse. There is also a significant multi-faith and multi-cultural diversity to the nature and expression of such events. This paper outlines a narrative structure which could be used authentically by health care staff to enable and value the patient’s experience of extra-ordinary episodes. This is seen as a significant way to support a patient’s dignity and enable them to integrate experiences in an effective way.
Bennett, G. (1999) Alas, Poor Ghost! Logan, UT: Utah University Press.
Chapple, A., et al. (2011) “The Role of Spirituality and Religion for Those Bereaved Due to a Traumatic Death”. Mortality 16(1): 1–19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2011.535998
Curtis, L. (2012) Deathbed Visions: Social Workers’ Experiences, Perspectives, Therapeutic Responses, and Direction for Practice. Social Work Master’s Clinical Research Papers. Paper 22. http://ir.stthomas.edu/ssw_mstrp/22.
Fenwick, P., and E. Fenwick (2013) The Art of Dying. London: Bloomsbury.
Gurney, E., F. W. H. Myers and F. Podmore (1886) Phantasms of the Living. Vols. 1 & 2. London: Trubner.
MacIntyre, A. (1971) Against the Self-Images of the Age. London: Duckworth.
McCrae, N., and S. Elliott (2013) “Spiritual Experiences in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: a Literature Review”. British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing 8(6): 346–51. http://dx.doi.org/10.12968/bjnn.2012.8.6.346
Mweri, J. G. (2010) “Interpretation: Signs and Meaning, Diversity in Language Use, Equivalences and Cultural Untranslatability”. Journal of Language, Technology and Entrepreneurship in Africa 2(1): 21–35. http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/jolte.v2i1.51988
Notworthy-Keane, E. (2009) Amazing Encounters: Direct Communication from the Afterlife. Kew East, Australia: David Lovell.
Ossis, K., and E. Haraldsson (1977) At the Hour of Death. New York: Avon Books.
Swift, C. (2014) Hospital Chaplaincy in the Twenty-first Century: The Crisis of Spiritual Care on the NHS. 2nd Ed. Farnham: Ashgate.
Tyrrell, G. N. M. (1953) Apparitions. London: Gerald Duckworth.
Willin, M. (2011) “Music and Death: An Exploration of the Place Music Has At The Time Of Human Death, With Special Emphasis On The Near-Death Experience”. Paranormal Review 58 (April): 3–9.
Whorf, B. L. (1956) Language, Thought, and Reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.