June 26, 2018
People who are very ill often ask spiritual questions, in seeking comfort, meaning and hope. While clergy, chaplains and other spiritual leaders may play an important role in spiritual care, family and friends can offer important spiritual support too.
If you have the opportunity to provide spiritual support for someone living with an illness, here are some suggestions:
Explore your own beliefs and values before you talk to others.
To support others spiritually, it’s important to understand your own spiritual beliefs about illness. Think of a time when you faced a major life transition, change or loss.
If you have not been diagnosed with a serious illness yourself, exploring these questions will help you understand your spirituality when facing life-changing situations.
Even within families, among friends and in faith communities, people’s spiritual beliefs and experiences may be very different. Be clear that your beliefs and values reflect your own beliefs and yours alone. Just as you would want another person to listen to you with respect and understanding, your family member or friend wants you to listen to them with respect and understanding as well.
It is common for people living with serious illness to ask themselves questions. As a “spiritual companion,” you can best support others by helping them explore these questions rather than providing the answers.
Be aware of spiritual pain and suffering.
Spiritual pain and suffering is as real and powerful as physical or emotional pain. There are many spiritual and religious issues people who have a serious illness may face and struggle with including the following:
Remember that you are not in this alone. Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice offers a full continuum of high quality medical, emotional and spiritual services to hospice patients, their family members and the community. If you need help offering spiritual support to a friend or loved one consider talking to one of our chaplains who have expertise in spiritual care. They can give you guidance on offering support and understanding for someone who is very ill.