Friday, August 8, 2008

A Caregiver's Role in Spirituality

Caregivers of hospice patients play an important role in spirituality during this critical stage of their friend or family member's life. According to Full Circle of Care, they have a dual role: 1) exploring their own concepts or beliefs about death, and 2)helping their loved one accept the reality of their situation.

At times, the dying person wants to make amends for things they have done in their past. This can involve asking forgiveness from family and friends, which may be difficult for those people to hear. Other times it may be just talking about what they did and how they would have changed things. One thing caregivers must do is just listen and be willing to talk about it, which will allow for this type of healing to occur.

When this type of healing does not occur, the physical body is ready to go, but the person may try to hold onto life in order to find a resolution, prolonging the end-of-life process. If a person comes to terms with their life in a peaceful, non-threatening environment, a spiritually peaceful death will occur. This means that the body is ready to go and that person's spirit/emotional part feels resolved and reconciled.

Some people may be in hospice and physically, the person is close to the end, but they continue to live. Some believe that one reason for this is that the person is making sure a caregiver or loved one is going to be alright. The hospice patient may be hanging on just for that loved one. So, it may be a part of the caregiver's role to let them know it is OK to go, which may be hard, but sometimes necessary for a peaceful death to take place.

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