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Spiritual Issues for the Terminally Ill

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 1 Sep 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Dying And Spirituality Funeral

Spirituality is a very personal thing, with each person defining their connection to the spiritual world in their own way. The diagnosis of a terminal illness is bound to make people examine their beliefs, reconfirming or possibly doubting the values that they've held.

Doubts and Questioning

The sense of injustice that is common to those diagnosed with a terminal illness can have some questioning the beliefs that they previously had. Wondering why such a terrible thing is happening and trying to make sense of the news may leave patients with more questions than answers, furthering their confusion and sense of loss. In her famed work about death and dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes five stages of grief, common to those in the last stages of their lives. The turmoil associated with working to find acceptance can be a spiritual journey for many. First is denial, the period before the reality of the situation really sinks in. After denial, the next stage is anger. Sometimes, that anger is directed toward God, or whatever deity that a person holds to be true. From there comes bargaining, a time in which many people pray for time to achieve a specific goal, attending the wedding of a child, for example. Sadness may follow, with a sense that nothing really matters, even their faith. Some terminally ill patients reach a point of acceptance, and their faith may play a role in helping them to feel ready to move on.

Finding Comfort in Religion

Those who have strong ties to a belief system and well-established relationships with members of the clergy may find a great deal of comfort in their faith, especially during times of crisis. Attitudes about death and dying, and matters of the afterlife vary a great deal depending on one's own beliefs, but a sense that death is a part of a life cycle can help some to look at death as a transition, rather than an ending, which may ease their minds during those last weeks and months of life.

Non-Church Related Spirituality

Some people have a strong spiritual identity, although they do not associate themselves with any specific religion of recognised mode of religious thinking. Spirituality and matters of the soul's life are core to living, and to dying as well. Many people find that their innermost beliefs, those that feel right to them, come from a variety of sources, rather than closely following the doctrines of a specific religious group. Those who follow an independent spiritual path may seek comfort in sharing their views with like-minded people, or may simply be content in knowing that they have a strong sense of who they are and what is happening to them.

Considering Funeral Arrangements

Funeral and burial traditions are often religion-based, so terminally ill patients who have strong opinions about their post-death arrangements should be certain that loved ones are aware of their wishes. Often, family members subscribe to the same mode of thinking in matters of religion, but that is not always the case. Voicing preferences, or possibly pre-arranging memorial or funeral services can assure the terminally ill that things will be handles according to their wishes.

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Am a terminal ill colon patient. In 2010 till 2014 I was cancer free my cancer came back in my spine am now through hospice and in a nursing home . my last wish is to go to Colorado. And see my oldest son and my 2 year old granddaughter for. Christmas . they always send me pictures I have 6 children my oldest 5th child died in a car crash in 2011. In July 15 I lost my husband with pancreatic cancer. Please make this come true. I want to see the beautiful snow
karen - 1-Sep-15 @ 8:15 PM
Am a terminal ill colon cancer patient I'm now through hospice I live in a nursing home. I'm only 57 years old. I lost my husband July 15th 2011pancreatic cancer. I have 6 grown children 8 grandkids 1 due in Feb . my dream is to go to Colorado see my oldest son. My 2 year old granddaughter see the beautiful. Mountains. Which he shares with me in pictures.I live on SS and the. Nursing home takes all my check except for 100.00 i can't ask my children they have done so much. They are renting me a beach cottage for 3 days. So I can spend and cherish great memories. Here in Jacksonville Fl with my grandchildren and sisters. Brothers here in Fl where I live. My dream is to see the snow . ride a horse carriage in the snow. My d ream is for Christmas to go up there always seen in movies never got to see it . my last wish to see this be dutiful place
karen - 1-Sep-15 @ 8:06 PM
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