CAPCMSSSM.ORG 2008

Palliative Care - Can Religion Play a Part?

In the recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the interest in religion and spirituality as a source of resilience in coping with acute or life threatening illness. Religion and spirituality does have a major role in Palliative Care.

In Palliative Care, the health professionals recognize the need for attending to the religious and spiritual needs of the patient. Studies have proved the effectiveness of compassionate addressing of the religious needs of the patient on his life and even in treatment. Usually, there will be a religious or spiritual preacher in a Palliative Care team, who will assist the patient in coping with his illness and eventual death.

When addressing the patient's religious and spiritual needs, it is very important to understand and recognize the concerns of the patient and his family. The religious needs of the patient may include accepting death as an inevitable aspect of life, making good relation with God and also with others, preparing for a life after death, forgiving himself and others, reflecting on his past life etc. The religious needs vary depending on the circumstances in which the patient was born and lived his life. It also depends on his moral and spiritual values also. Again, religion assures him the value of life and its meaning. Thus religion helps in providing comfort to the patients in Palliative Care.

Religion also helps in relieving distress and pain arising out of the illness and its treatment. It provides a psychological comfort and assurance to the patient and his family. It helps the patient to cope with his present condition and to endure it peacefully and gracefully. It can supplement the treatment very effectively. Usually patients with acute illness will have lost hope and faith in everything. Religion helps in restoring this lost hope and faith. It even helps in bringing new meanings and value to life. Thus religion plays a very important role in Palliative Care.

 




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