Spiritual Needs of the Dying:

  • Affirmation that the dying individual’s life has had meaning.
  • Die an appropriate death.
  • Find hope beyond the grave

    Courtesy of the Huffington Post
    Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

Article courtesy of Huffington Post 05/25/2011

Senior Consultant, Hospice Foundation of America

Do individuals become more religious as they die? This question has often been debated among academics who study death. Such debate avoids the central issue that the dying process raises profound spiritual concerns of meaning and connection for individuals. Whether those who are dying reconnect, review, or renew prior religious beliefs — or are even open to new religious experiences — they are likely to engage in some form of spiritual searching.

That search may be deeply religious or not, but it is always spiritual, and it can occur whether the person was traditionally religious or followed another belief system, whether the person was a humanist, atheist, or agnostic. Despite this reality, spiritual needs of the dying are often overlooked or ignored by family caregivers, clinicians and even clergy, who may be uncomfortable with spiritual searching by the dying and with conversations that may occur that have strong spiritual significance.

There are certain basic human needs that exist as long as we live — comfort, connection, and care, but there are also three distinct spiritual needs that arise as individuals become aware of their finitude, or the sense that their life is now severely limited. (Continue Reading “Understanding the Spiritual Needs“)