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October 20, 2016
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Palliative Medicine

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Spiritual Care Outcome in Palliative Medicine

Spirituality is a broad concept with various perspectives.  Often times, people associate spirituality directly with religion.  Some seek the spirituality through music, art, meditation or through their connection to the nature.  Our personal definition of spirituality may change according to our personal experience.  As a broad description we could say spirituality is a powerful sense of energy one creates within one self by harmonizing the mind and soul. It could be through music, art or through meditation.  Hence practicing meditation provides framework of discipline for mind and body that brings forth insight, wisdom and peace. This paradigm shift truly nourishes our spirituality, and in turn allows us to share that knowledge and treat others.

Spirituality catches the attention from the world because of its relationship with both physical and mental health. Spiritual need is universal to all human kind. Numerous findings have shown that having strong spiritual belief provides tremendous benefits during the time of hardship and illness. Developing and nurturing strong spirituality provides foundation for good mental health as it helps counteract various negative aspects of the illness by teaching resiliency and potentiating the sense of physical well being.

However, one’s religion does not always provide complete spiritual care for dying person. Spiritual care is interwoven in our values, believes, our personality and interpersonal skills. We get the message of death the day we were born. Death can come to us any given time; terminal illnesses can come to us via countless unexpected ways. When we consider how to handle our own mortality or how to help others to handle facing their own mortality, that is when the spiritual care becomes paramount. Some patients are prepared for the death, but most are not and would never think that they would get sick or they would die one day.

Under the spiritual care it is important to help the dying patients find meaning and peace of mind. Taking care of patient with great passion of love, kindness, compassion and care, will affect their mental and physical well being.  For that care giver has to have well developed discipline of their mind and body, which one can gain through being spiritual. In order to share the meaning of life, one has to be a good listener with non- judgmental attitude so to allow people to find and express their own meaning of life. We must acknowledge the essential goodness of our nature. It is important to enclose positive attitudes, statements and memories, and indeed necessary to offer unconditional love and compassion which creates an atmosphere of trust and peace. It is essential not to convert, but to help the person to get in touch with their own strengths of faith and spirituality. We must always remember that the other person wants to avoid suffering and enjoy happiness as well as we do.  We must cultivate equanimity, but not pity.  Caregiver has to develop loving compassion and wish for everyone to be free from suffering.

True compassion and loving kindness helps create peaceful environment that supports, inspires and helps to heal the dying person spiritually. Lastly, caregiver should dedicate their experience and their effort, without judgment, to the highest good, as universally as possible.

Nisansala Rajapaksa

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