A child's illness and hospitalization can be a difficult time for any family. Our Spiritual Care team offers spiritual guidance and emotional support to people of all faiths as well as those who practice no particular faith.
Just as our incredible doctors, nurses, and medical teams are here to care for your child's physical needs, we're here to provide spiritual care. We can help lift your spirits, ease your fears, and offer support to your family during your time of need.
Our pediatric trained chaplains are here to help you with whatever your needs and are happy to help you:
- Connect with members and/or a local spiritual leader of your own beliefs.
- Locate a Catholic priest.
- Find worship services.
- Meet with a Cook Children's Child Life specialist.
- Learn about therapeutic art activities and music therapy available at Cook Children's.
Spiritual care services are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Cook Children's chaplains are on-site daily, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. To contact a chaplain or arrange spiritual care services:
- During business hours, call 682-885-4030 or the medical center operator.
- After-hours or emergencies, call the medical center operator.
The Erma Lowe Chapel is always open. Located on the 2nd floor of the medical center, the chapel provides a quiet, peaceful place for family members to reflect, meditate, and/or pray. Our chapel is open to people of all or no faiths. Catholic and Protestant Bibles in English and Spanish, Jewish Prayer Books, the Muslim Qur'an, and prayer rugs are available for use in our chapel.
Having a child in the hospital is stressful. Chaplains are here to help you use your own faith and spirit to get through hard days and celebrate good days.
Our chaplains can provide:
- A Bible or other sacred text
- Prayer journals
- Journals for meditation or your own diary entries
We're happy to help assist you with spiritual rituals:
- A blessing ceremony for your child
When you need pastoral support, we offer:
- A safe place to share your feelings.
- Counseling for a specific issue.
- Consultation about an ethical issue or important decision.
- Guidance in connecting with God, spiritual meaning, or your inner spirit.
- Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family.
- Learn about the art and music therapy programs available at Cook Children's.
- Grief support.
- Help with planning funeral or end-of-life services.
The spiritual needs of children
The faith needs of children are unique. Spiritual growth occurs in all developmental stages, from infancy through adulthood. As you care for your child's spiritual needs, it can be helpful to understand what is appropriate for their age.
Infancy – three years: sensing security
The greatest spiritual need for a child at this age is to feel security and trust. At ages 2 and 3, children love to mimic others. Teaching them to sing simple songs of faith and to share simple prayers.
Children who are hospitalized might feel particularly afraid and uncertain. Using a soothing voice and a gentle touch will encourage them to trust their environment.
Three – seven years: experiencing faith
Young children love to experience everything! They like to explore, imagine and create. In these years, it's important to involve your child in actively expressing their faith. They can:
- Read stories of faith
- Sing songs
- Act out faith stories
- Pray their own prayers
In the medical center, the chaplains are happy to assist you with activities that encourage your child's creativity and faith.
Seven – twelve years: relational faith
Older children are beginning to see themselves as individuals. They are forming their own relationships, making their own choices. Their family is still an important influence, but these children are learning to take responsibility for their actions and to understand the consequences of their choices. Older children have lots of questions; many of those questions will not have simple answers.
When children are staying in the medical center, it's important to give them plenty of space to ask their questions. Allow them to have doubts when their illness causes their faith to waiver. Model for them your steady faith, even in the face of difficult moments. Their faith—and yours—can grow through this time as you encourage their questions with patience and grace.
Our spiritual care team
The chaplains at Cook Children's are trained and experienced to minister in this demanding and unique environment. Our ministers are also knowledgeable about the developmental and spiritual issues distinctive to hospitalized children. We work as part of the pediatric health care team, bringing a sense of wholeness and health to patients and families.
The Erma Lowe Chapel at Cook Children's
The Erma Lowe Chapel at Cook Children's is designed to provide a place for prayer, meditation and peace for all people. There are Catholic and Protestant Bibles in English and Spanish, Jewish Prayer Books, and the Muslim Qur'an and prayer rugs are available. The chapel also provides an inviting space for quiet meditation
The chapel is located on the second floor of the main building across from elevator B. The chapel is always open. For service times or to speak with a chaplain, please call 682-885-4030.
Cook Children's is the only medical center in the Fort Worth Catholic diocese to have a tabernacle for the host to reserve sacrament for Holy Communion.
History of our Chapel
The chapel at Cook Children's opened on Mother's Day in 1989. It is located on the second floor of the main tower. The chapel and all its furnishings are gifts from a community that loves children. The smallest donation was thirty-seven cents from a young child. The two largest gifts were from the Cook Children's Woman's Board and the Walsh Foundation. The prayers of many infuse this room and contribute to the comfort people sense here.
The beautiful Noah's Ark stained glass by Gordon Smith was completed in the fall of 2002. This glass was Mr. Smith's final project and is in many ways his finest work. The glass is museum-quality, involving much research and detail; some pieces were etched and fired as many as four times, in the classic European tradition.
We chose a Noah's Ark theme because a flood story is common to most major world cultures. We pray that Cook Children's is an ark of safety for families caught in the storm of a child's illness or injury. In our glass, you will notice the movement of the sky, from blustery clouds to a clear day. We want to care for families while they need us, journeying together as they move confidently into a hopeful future.
The needle-pointed kneelers were designed by liturgical artist, Sheila Oscher, in 2002. Diann Stadler was our professional color consultant for threads. Jimmie Ruth Griffith headed our team of stitchers from many congregations, civic clubs, and friendship circles. The work on the 21 kneelers, 4 clergy benches, 2 piano benches, 2 clergy stoles, and a triptych wall-hanging was completed in less than one year. Three of our stitchers were later selected to needlepoint the kneeler for the high altar at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
There is also a beautiful angel painting on the window wall titled, "The Journey." The painting was a gift from local artist Jessica Ray.
We invite you to spend time in our chapel, gazing at the stained glass and wondering about the story behind each kneeler—for each piece is a story of love, both human and divine. When someone comes here feeling sad and lonely, we say,"Start reading the names all over this chapel. All are real men, women, boys and girls who care about you and are praying that your needs are met and your blessings are many." This is a house of prayer for all people — for you.
Many congregations and community organizations participate in the interfaith ministry's PrayerBear program. New toy teddy bears of all shapes, sizes and colors are blessed during worship services, then they are delivered to medical center chaplains. These bears are given to patients who need encouragement or support after a painful procedure, during a lengthy hospital stay or during difficult times.
Chaplains tell children that "this bear comes to you with love from people you have never met who are praying for you." The Prayer Bears often mean so much to children and their families that some families return to the medical center to donate bears to the program. Our Interfaith Prayer Ministry is grateful for donations from our community throughout the year of new, soft bears. We are only able to accept new bears.
Sometimes you just need words that you can use to feel better or share with someone else. We hope you find some comfort here
Tender and compassionate God, you are our steadfast companion in the joyous times of our lives. When we rejoice, you celebrate with us; when we are anxious and afraid, you offer us a relationship where we can find courage to face the unknown; when we weep with sadness, you are our comforter. Help us, O God, to believe that you receive us as we are, and help us to entrust ourselves, with all our many struggles and hopes, to your faithful and abiding care. Amen.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
– Reinhold Niebuhr
Hear my prayer, O God, source of all life. My child is ill and I am afraid. She/he is so fragile and young, so small and vulnerable. Deliver her/him from sickness. Make her/him strong, full of life and laughter once more. Bless her/him with your love that she/he may not be afraid and restore her/him to health. Amen.
God help me to weave a tapestry of love and not hate in my children, a spirit of tolerance and caring, and a dedication to freedom for all and not just some. God help me to sow seeds of peace and justice in my children's hearts today. Amen.
– Marian Wright Edelman
May the gentleness of God's supportive and sustaining love gather us in her arms this day/night, and bless us with sleep that restores both body and soul. Amen.
– Marchiene Vroon Rienstra
Facing the Future
Every journey begins
With but a small step.
And every day is a chance
For a new, small step
In the right direction.
Just follow your Heartsong.
– Mattie J. Stepanek (then 8 years old).
Cook Children's Medical Center offers an Interfaith Prayer Ministry to give local individuals and congregations a way to support patients, families and medical center staff. More than 120 congregations of many faiths provide support and receive the medical center's weekly prayer list.
If you would like to receive the weekly email prayer list or request a specific prayer, please call 682-885-4030.
Bereavement and end-of-life support
We recognize that the death of a child is a significant event for you and your family. Few parents are truly prepared for the death of their child, and the prospect of making arrangements for your child's funeral may add to the pain. One way that we can help is to provide you with basic information about the arrangements needed at the time of death.
Organ and tissue donation
Right now, there are more than 96,000 individuals in this country waiting for their second chance at life—a chance made possible through organ and tissue donation. The decision to donate can be an incredible way to honor your child and help another.
Cook Children's recognizes donor families through the Walk of Honor, located on our medical center campus near the prayer garden. Each donor child's first name is etched into a beautiful plaque. At night, dancing lights shine through the names so that they can be seen from the patient rooms on our top floor.
LifeGift Organ and Tissue Donation Center
Donate Life Texas--Register as an Organ/Tissue Donor
If you consented to an autopsy
The funeral home of your choice will be contacted when the autopsy is complete, usually within 24-48 hours after the death. It takes approximately 90 days for the autopsy results to be established, reviewed, typed and available. When the autopsy is complete, a chaplain will contact you to arrange an autopsy conference with the physician.
If your child was taken to the Medical Examiner
Your child's body will be released from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner to the funeral home of your choice when the autopsy is complete. You will need to call the Medical Examiner's office directly (817-920-5700) with the funeral home information. The Medical Examiner's office is not part of Cook Children's Medical Center.
Tarrant County Medical Examiner
Funeral home and services
One of the first decisions you will need to make is which funeral home to use. You may want to ask another family member, friend or someone in your faith community for help.
- If you are from out of state and plan to return your child's body home, you will need to identify a funeral home from your home area that will work with a Fort Worth-based funeral home to transport your child's body back to your hometown.
- If you are a member of a religious community (church, synagogue, mosque), you may wish to contact the clergy person from your congregation. They can assist you in making arrangements for the service.
A funeral, memorial or committal service can take place at a funeral home, church, congregation or at the graveside. A funeral director will work with you to make these arrangements.
Burial and cremation
There are two basic options available for you to consider: burial and cremation.
If you choose burial, there are several things to consider as you choose a cemetery:
- Is it near your home so you can visit?
- Does it meet your religious or cultural requirements?
- Is maintenance included in the cost?
- Is there additional space for other family members?
- Are there restrictions on the type of monument, plants, flowers or decorations you can put on the grave?
A funeral director will be able to help answer your questions and provide the detailed information you need to make your decisions.
Choosing cremation. Some parents prefer the option of cremation. It usually costs less than a burial and you have the option of burying, keeping or scattering your child's ashes. If you choose cremation, you may still have calling hours, viewing and a memorial service. Cremation may be the more practical choice if you plan to move out of the area at some time.
Once a decision is made regarding a funeral home or cremation, call the Cook Children's operator at 682-885-4000, and ask to speak with the nurse supervisor. The following information will be needed:
- Funeral home or crematory name
- Address with ZIP code
- Telephone number with area code