Learning to forgive was part of his healing process

Learning to forgive was part of his healing process
Mr Teo Kim Seng (right) with MWS Chaplain Rev Chua Chiew Poh

When the SARS epidemic swept through Singapore in 2003, Mr Teo Kim Seng’s packaging business took such a hard hit that he ended up filing for bankruptcy and switching to a taxi driving career. Soon after, cracks formed in his marriage, which wound up in divorce in 2015.

“I plunged into work to numb the pain of my failed business and marriage, and not being able to see my children often as the courts had granted care and control to my  ex-wife,” recalled Mr Teo. “I also started to drink heavily as I was very depressed. I reached a point where I wanted to give up on life, and even stopped taking medication for my high blood pressure.”

Long-term neglect of his health resulted in Mr Teo suffering a stroke, and his eventual admittance to MWS Nursing Home – Yew Tee (YTNH).

New beginnings

When Mr Teo, now 59, was first admitted into the Nursing Home in May 2019, he was in a bad place emotionally. “I was bitter and resentful over how my life had panned out, and filled with hatred towards my ex-wife as I blamed her for my plight,” said Mr Teo, who relies on a wheelchair to get around, and a dedicated care team to tend to his medical and nursing needs.

During that time, cutting a friendly figure in the hallways and wards of the Nursing Home was MWS Chaplain, Rev Chua Chiew Poh, recalled Mr Teo. “Chiew Poh often went around greeting the residents. Back then, I was very demoralised and she spent a lot of time ministering to me, and encouraging me to let go of all hatred and anger.”

Mr Teo soon began attending the Nursing Home’s weekly pastoral care services. Over time, under the support and counselling by the pastoral care team, Mr Teo began to heal from his brokenness. “I experienced inner peace and joy, and started thinking more positively,” he said.

Mr Teo mused on how his newfound faith has anchored him in hope and boosted his resilience to weather life’s inevitable ups and downs. While Mr Teo used to rely on anti-depressants to stabilise his mood swings, he has since stopped medication. “My temper has mellowed, and I’m a lot calmer now,” he said.

Part of that inner peace has come from learning to let go. “Recently, I lost a sum of money in an e-commerce scam. The ‘old’ me would have gone out of my way to seek revenge. But I’ve learnt the importance of forgiveness, so I now let bygones be bygones,” he said.

“Forgiveness and letting go of past hurts are recurring themes during our pastoral care services,” shared Chiew Poh. “Many residents struggle with unprocessed feelings and if they don’t let go, it can affect their physical and mental well-being, and their relationships with others.”

Dog Therapy
Dog therapy is one of the many programmes and activities run at the Nursing Home to support the residents’ overall well-being

Caring for the whole person

Pastoral care is a critical piece in the puzzle of MWS’ holistic approach to whole-person care which caters to the physical, socio- emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being of our beneficiaries. At MWS YTNH, this is delivered through a suite of services by a multi-disciplinary team which includes doctors, nurses, therapists, medical social workers and chaplains. Holistic care is central to our providing a home-away-from- home for our residents.

Through engaging our residents in a variety of purposeful and meaningful activities, we hope they will maintain their physical and cognitive skills, socialise more, and enjoy fulfilling lives. Volunteers play an important role in such engagements and help foster a sense of community belonging among our residents.

For Mr Teo, activities like bingo games and dog therapy have provided him with the all-important emotional and social support. A band of church volunteers and pastors also regularly visit and minister to him. “They are like my good friends. Sometimes, they surprise me with my favourite food like curry puffs and salted eggs,” he said.

While Mr Teo is still unable to walk for long distances, regular therapy and rehabilitation programmes have helped to improve his lower limb strength, balance and mobility. “The physiotherapists here built my confidence to walk by myself using a walking aid. Now, I can walk short distances and can go to the toilet by myself,” he said.

With his HDB flat due for completion soon, Mr Teo looks forward to returning to live in completion soon, Mr Teo looks forward to returning to live in the community, together with his children when they turn 21. While he is still estranged from his ex-wife, he no longer harbours hatred towards her. “I’ve learnt to let go and forgive,” he said. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift of God. So, I focus on the present and look forward to the future with faith and hope.”

At MWS, delivering holistic care and enriching lives are anchored on our mission to extend the love of Christ to the disadvantaged and distressed in our community. If you share our passion, we invite you to partner with us. Visit mws.sg to find out more or scan the QR Code to make a financial contribution.

By the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Communications Team. / Photos courtesy of MWS