For Pastor Keith Clary, working for Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County was an experience in healing. Speaking candidly with patients and their families who were facing the toughest time of life was exactly what he needed to heal after his own tremendous loss.
Pastor Keith lost his daughter, Carla, to cancer when she was only 34 years old. Her battle with cancer was long and taxing, and her health took a turn for the worse after the birth of her beautiful baby girl, Lily. Pastor Keith and his wife took over many of the caretaking responsibilities of their granddaughter while their own child was in the hospital. “I was by my daughter’s side at the hospital every day for the last four months of her life,” Pastor Keith recalls. The doctors prepared the family for what they learned was the inevitable and sent her home for her final days.
“The drive home from the hospital was terrible and chaotic. I was trying to figure out how to get everything taken care of,” Pastor Keith says. “She was in so much pain, she couldn’t lie down comfortably, and none of us had any clue how to navigate the process.” The anxiety he felt on the drive melted away the moment he pulled into his driveway and saw that a nurse from Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County was there waiting for them to arrive. “When everything seemed to be at its worst, like angels, they stepped in,” he says. “They calmed us down and all of the nervousness we felt changed to comfort in the matter of an hour.” Staff members of Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County were there for Pastor Keith and his family that day and the following days, and they have become lifelong friends.
This relationship that he created with the staff is what led Pastor Keith to his chaplain role at the hospice. “I thank God for my time working there and the wonderful folks who work there,” he says. Pastor Keith received so much peace and comfort by helping to bring peace and comfort to others. The families he was speaking with helped heal his grief as much as he helped heal theirs. “It meant more to the families I was speaking with to know that I had gone through the same pain as they had,” he says. “I had compassion for them in a way that no one else could.”
Though Pastor Keith has left his role at Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County, the staff and the mission of the organization has earned a permanent spot in his heart as they helped him find a new purpose when everything seemed lost.