Dying can be a very scary prospect. The end. The unknown. Losing connection with those we love and life as we know it.
Towards the end, people can feel waves of anxiety and euphoria in turn, whether in principle they are resigned to death, accepting of it or maybe even welcome it.
Spirituality and our care is now recognised within health and social services to be every bit as important as physical and emotional care. Discussing a patient’s spiritual needs at the end of life is a requirement within international health policies and clinical guidelines, and training and monitoring aims to ensure standards continue to improve. For professionals, it’s a chance to honour the privilege of caring for a dying person. See news on spirituality in nursing.
Common spiritual concerns are searching for meaning or validation – a sign that you did the best you could; seeking forgiveness or a need for confessional – wanting to right wrongs; seeking peace – patching up broken relationships, seeking out long-lost relatives, resolving disputes. Ultimately it’s about tying up loose ends to be able to leave in peace… and maybe go on to a higher place.
On a practical level the kind of spiritual fulfilment you seek might be met by going home to die, going a drive into the countryside to visit a favourite haunt, having your family by your bedside, hearing your favourite music.
Hospital chaplains are trained to offer spiritual support and carry out rites of passage for people of any faith or belief system. End of life companions can help someone who is dying on the final leg of their journey.