Have you ever heard about The Pause? I learned about it this weekend and think it will revolutionize the way I deal with difficult people.
You Never Know What You’ll Learn at Church
“I feel like I should know you,” the visitor to our church said with a smile.
“My name is Anita,” I said, “do you know any Anitas?”
“That’s it!” she said, “We went to Walla Walla University together. I’m Cristina. I worked for Sra. Henderson.”
We laughed and exchanged fond memories of our Spanish professor.
“What do you do now?” I asked.
“I work as a hospital chaplain,” she said.
“Wow. What a difficult job.”
“It is, but it’s also so rewarding,” she assured me. “People might think the end-of-life moments take a lot out of us, but ever since we’ve started The Pause, I’ve enjoyed my job even more.”
“The Pause? I’ve never heard of that.”
How One Hospital Does The Pause
“You know how when someone codes and they don’t make it, the doctor in charge looks at the clock and states the time of death? And then everyone removes their gloves and walks away from the room?”
I nodded. While I’d never seen it in real life, I figured it probably went down that way because every television show and movie depicted the same scene.
“At our hospitals, we now do The Pause. At the time of death, the person in charge says, ‘We invite you to participate in The Pause to honor this patient.’ Everyone in the room, from doctors to nurses, chaplains, family members, therapists, and support staff, can choose to stay or leave.”
I nodded again. “What a nice way to acknowledge life at the moment of death.”
“It gets better,” Cristina said. “If anyone knows anything about the patient, they state it. For example, ‘John was a son,’ or ‘he had three daughters and a loving wife.’”
“So The Pause brings back humanity to a scene of death,” I said.
“Yes! Instead of rushing away to the next thing, everyone in the room has a moment to honor life, take a deep breath, and acknowledge those hard emotions that come with the loss of life. At the end of the minute, the person in charge thanks everyone.”
“How powerful,” I murmured.
“It’s especially important if someone passes away unexpectedly,” she said. “Instead of just wheeling a body to the morgue, we now have a code we call out over the intercom, and every available person lines the hallway for a moment of silence. If the deceased is a veteran, we drape their body with a flag.”
Using The Pause with Difficult People
I brushed tears out of my eyes and immediately started thinking about how I could implement The Pause in my life.
I work at a small school for Native American kids who have experienced high levels of trauma. As the school year starts and new students flood our campus, we have no idea what might trigger them to enter fight, fright, or flight mode. We do know it WILL happen. The student might engage in fisticuffs with another student, cuss out a staff member, or refuse to respond to any adults.
Normally, this would toll the death knell for that student. How can we serve them if they fight, don’t show respect, or refuse to engage? But we could implement The Pause in our educational setting.
When a student cusses me, I can take a deep breath and repeat to myself, “This is Bernie. God loves him. Jesus died for him. He has limitless potential.” The Pause allows my emotions to settle, and the words I whisper over him will change my attitude toward Bernie.
Sometimes, things get tense between co-workers, and I can see how using The Pause in those situations would help me cope. “This is Georgia. God loves her. Jesus died for her. She faithfully shows up to work each day. Her kindness touches others.”
I’ve discovered I have difficulty tearing down something I just built up. I challenge you to try it the next time you encounter a difficult person. Take a deep breath. Say, ‘This is________. God loves her/him. Jesus died for her/him. She/he ______________________ (insert something positive about the person).
Let me know if it works!
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