It’s National Pastoral Care Week and the theme is Hospitality: Cultivating Time. For our spiritual care coordinators at Suncoast Hospice, that means showing compassion and understanding while nurturing a safe and comfortable space for our patients and families to express feelings and find comfort.
Miranda Harrison-Quillin started as a Suncoast Hospice spiritual care coordinator last July. From her chaplaincy work and service overseas to her new mission of care at Suncoast Hospice, she believes in helping others and making the lives of patients and families more peaceful.
A Calling to Serve
Harrison-Quillin grew up in Tampa and realized her purpose of ministry early in life.
“My dad wanted me to be a Supreme Court justice. I can date back to six years old knowing that God called me to serve in a very specific way. Everybody, regardless of their faith or spirituality, has a calling. I knew that my calling was to serve God and to serve people,” she shared.
She did her seminary education at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC and her clinical pastoral education (CPE) at Tampa General Hospital. Then she became a chaplain and served at an Episcopal church before heading to London for a year’s worth of ministerial and community service, a program she learned about on Twitter. Her time abroad was transformative.
“I served as a monk in the Ecumenical community of St. Anselm. There were 16 of us from 13 countries and many denominations and disciplines, from engineering to finance to ministry. We spent a lot of time in silence and I spent Thursdays serving with the L’Arche community, which helps people with or without intellectual disabilities. The foundation of the program was that we all had something to contribute and we would take the practices, habits and life-changing experiences that we had and apply them to our everyday lives. It was incredible. It was the best year of my life. And now I have brothers and sisters from all over the world,” she explained.
Love for Hospice
After returning to Florida, Harrison-Quillin lent her hand in disaster relief work for Hurricane Irma survivors. Then she found her way to Suncoast Hospice after a second-time application.
“I was very glad to come on board. I found my heart pulled here and that their pioneering hearts and other beautiful organizational values aligned so much with my own personal values. Their values are how I want to live my life,” she expressed.
She holds a deep appreciation for hospice care provided to the community and her family.
“The thing that really stands out to me is servant care for people, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ability to pay, language or culture. The kind of care that hospice provides is for all people. Both of my maternal grandparents died in hospice care, my mother died in hospice care earlier this year and my aunt is a hospice nurse in Lake County. I’m glad I’ve had family members in hospice care because the medical professionals brought their whole selves to the care. Care wasn’t just something that they provided, it was something that they felt. It was very personal. Hospice professionals aren’t afraid to go to where it’s painful,” she shared.
Spiritual Care and Comfort
Her spiritual care role entails being strong, open and calming for patients and families.
She explained, “We all have our own personalities and styles as spiritual care coordinators. A spiritual care coordinator should be self-aware and non-anxious and should have the capacity to hold the breadth of emotions and experiences at the end of life. There may be pain, joy, celebration, guilt, anger, fear or frustration. I hope that the patients and families in my care are able to be real and vulnerable. I hope I provide a safe place for them to ask their questions and that I bring some sense of peace and comfort, even when their feelings are painful and their questions don’t have answers.”
She feels privileged to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives.
“It has felt like a supreme honor. I’m grateful that we get the privilege of bearing witness to people’s lives and that they trust us enough to share pieces of themselves. It seemed like there was one week in which every single patient I went to see had this really deep sense of gratitude for life, family, friends and other things that gave them meaning. I’m in my early 30’s and I hope I can take that same sense of gratitude for all of the people in my life today until I’m a hospice patient myself,” she said.
Musical Gifts and Team Work
One beloved family member who Harrison-Quillin will always be grateful for is her late mother. She inherited her mother’s singing talent and will perform in 9 to 5 The Musical opening November 1 at the Straz Center in Tampa.
“I’m a musical theater performer in my off hours. I’ve been doing it since middle school. I have an eight-octave range, I can sing first soprano all the way down to baritone. I get it from my mama, I grew up with her wonderful singing. I will play the villain’s secretary named Roz. She’s an uptight office person but she sings a showstopper,” she noted.
As sometimes art imitates life, she values how a hospice team must work together like a cast.
“All of us caregivers have our roles to play. We have our onstage moments with patients and families and we have the backstage moments with our team so that we can provide care. Just like a cast, we are all working together toward the common goal.”
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