Spiritual Care for Hospice Patients
Hospice is not just concerned with a patient’s physical needs. For a terminally ill person, emotional support and social interaction are also critical for their continued well-being and comfort. And one way hospice fulfills these needs is by providing spiritual care. Though somewhat of a broad category, spiritual care can include:
- Visits from a chaplain, which—if the patient or their family desires—may involve singing and prayer.
- The opportunity to voice and discuss existential concerns, such as “Why is this happening to me?” and “What am I even living for?”
- Discussions on faith and personal beliefs about death and the afterlife.
- Reminiscing about the “good” things that the patient did in their life, as well as happy memories that they or their loved ones cherish.
- Help in coming to terms with the past, including “mistakes” that were made along the way or feelings of regret.
- Encouragement to stay hopeful, as well as messages of strength and comfort in the midst of grief, anger, and confusion.
Hospice spiritual care does NOT:
- Only cater to members of a specific religion.
- Attempt to convert the patient (and/or their family) to one religion or another.
- Stress the need to believe in a specific deity (or deities).
- Present spirituality as “synonymous” with religion.
Please note that hospice spiritual care is not reserved exclusively for the patient. Family members and close friends who find themselves struggling emotionally can also receive counsel and guidance. Just as hospice services cover more than just a patient’s physical health, spiritual care recognizes that the patient usually isn’t the only one feeling “lost” or sad during this difficult time.