Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Spirituality and Death

Death is not the end to spiritual people.  Death is a continuation.  Many view death as primarily an end point and something to be avoided at all costs, but death is as part of life as birth and plays a pivotal role in our development.

Spirituality is key in death.  Many may view life in a more materialistic way, but even so, spirituality without a higher end can be beneficial to the dying.  Spirituality and a commitment to something higher or bigger than themselves.  The traditional ideal of spirituality sees this in regards to religion, faith and a God, while others may see it as a way of life, or giving to the greater cause of humanity.  Spirituality allows one to approach death with more dignity and understanding.

Spirituality is key in embracing death and understanding the nature of its role in life. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification

 

In David Kessler’s book, “The Needs of the Dying”. he addresses five important stages and elements of spirituality. In some cases, death or the news of death bring about this stages and to them the benefits of death open one’s soul.  Spirituality is for the mind and soul, not the body itself.  Death can bring about a healing of the soul for the future existence.

Kessler points out that the first step is expression.  Expression is needed in regards to one’s physical ailment.  One needs to let the anger or grief out.  Many are angry at God for suffering and misfortune or why they have a particular disease.  It is important to express the feelings of death to be able to face them and understand them.  No particular feeling is wrong or right but are catalysts to understanding.

Following expression is a spirituality of responsibility.  One begins to take account of one’s life and begin to understand that not everything in life was everyone else’s fault.  Taking responsibility allows one to humble oneself and identify issues of life that were once so black and white and maybe see that the issues and common factors were oneself.  It can present an important spiritual transformation that without death could never occur.

Naturally following responsibility stems forgiveness.  One does not wish to die bitter and angry but instead looks to forgive. Death can bring broken and shattered families together in forgiveness.  One is able to set everything straight and see things far more clearly than before.  Petty arguments and proud stances become trivial when one is about to lose his or her life.

Acceptance of the death is also an important step in dying.  One may not desire to die but it is important to accept death when no other route is left.  One needs to learn from oncoming death what life truly is.  This is only possible when one faces death and accepts it as part of his or her continuing journey.

Spirituality in death helps one accept responsibility of life, forgive, accept and be thankful for life.

In this, spiritually, one should find some sort of gratitude.  Life is not defined by what was accomplished or how long one lived, but a life is defined by birth and death.  No life is incomplete.  Each life has a certain amount of time.  Gratitude for life and what has been given is key in spirituality when dying.  It cherishes what has been given instead of lamenting what was taken.

Spirituality is important in dying.  It helps one to understand the comprehensive nature of death.  Death is no longer an end point but part of a process and something that is as important to life as birth itself.  If  you would like to learn more about Pastoral Thanatology and the science of dying, then please review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.

 

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on Pain Management

Pain is a natural nerve reaction telling the body that there is damage to tissue.  It is an essential warning device.  It sometimes hastens death and lets the person know the body no longer is viable and sometimes in death it can be absent.  Unfortunately, individuals cannot decide if pain will be present in their final days or not but every person has a right to die with as little pain as possible.  Physicians and family need to ensure their loved one’s receive the necessary pain management.

Pain management is important element of pastoral care. The right to die without pain is something all individuals deserve.

 

Pain management should be simple but it is not always simple.   Many individuals see pain differently.  Pain for the most part is dependent upon the individual.  This is why it is so crucial to express for the terminally ill or dying to express their levels of pain.  Doctors may prescribe pain medication levels for an average curve and supply too little for someone who may have a lower tolerance for pain.  It is important for individuals to let doctors know their pain level.  They need to express the type of pain, the level of it, the place of it, and its duration.

Some may seek to hide their pain, fearing if they accept certain medications, they are hastening death, but the reality is pain management is not about giving up, but instead, living in comfort with what days remain.  It is crucial and a right of every patient to be pain free or at least as pain free as possible.  Families who see their loved ones suffer, need to be the voice of those to weak to express their pain and ensure the proper medications and pain relievers are supplied.

Many doctors may fear the issue of addiction with greater pain relievers, but the fear of addiction is mute once a person has reached the threshold of death.  Death is coming and addiction of certain medications is not an issue nor ever should be.  Addiction can become a topic for discussion for pain management of the living, but never should be an issue for the dying.  Comfort and pain relief is the most important concern after someone has reached a certain point.

It is the duty of pastoral care givers and healthcare providers to provide the best comfort to the dying.  Physically, pain relief is one of the most important elements of pastoral care.  It is important to reduce or remove pain as much as possible for the dying so they may experience a death of peace and dignity when possible.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals and needs.

 

If you would like to learn more about our Pastoral Thanatology Certification or would like to become certified in this field of care of the dying, then please review AIHCP’s program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is for healthcare professionals and those involved in ministry and focuses on preparing individuals with the training and knowledge needed to help the dying and their families deal with end of life issues.  The program is online and independent study and leads to a four year certification.

 

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Spirituality and the Terminally Ill

Pastoral Care of the dying is beyond treating the body and providing comfort but also helping the soul prepare for death.  Spirituality plays a key role in this process of death.  While the subject should not be breached unless invoked by the patient, it is important for healthcare providers to have some understanding of faith and spirituality.  It is important to see how faith plays a role in dying and how to react to faith based statements from patients.

Spiritual care is an important aspect of Pastoral Thanatology. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals

 

The article, “Spirituality Is An Important Part of Cancer Care, But Nurses Need More Support” by Kaitlyn D’Onofrio looks at how nurses view spiritual care.  Her article states from a case study of nurses that

“For nurses to provide spiritual care, institutional acknowledgement of the importance of spiritual care is needed. Nurses have highlighted the lack of adequate settings to address spirituality. Spiritual care needs to be a part of the institutional vision to enable the provision of this care to become relevant and accountable by institutions,”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and leads to a four year certification

 

 

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on Dying Well

Dying is as much part of life as birth, yet many dismiss it, hide it and avoid it.  Death is a taboo subject for many.  It is forbidden word of bad luck.  When such attitudes persist, how one experiences death or experiences death with a loved one can be negative.

It is important to face death as we face birth.  We need to live the dying process fully and despite the pain, stand by those who are dying.  David Kessler explained it best as how we used to meet our loved ones at the gate of an airport.   We met them there, but when their time to leave arrived, we walked them to the gate.  While this is no longer possible since 911, the idea and analogy fits perfectly.   We welcome many from day 1 and in some cases we also say good bye to them.  We cannot cheat the process.  We cannot just drop them off at the terminal and allow a shuttle to carry them off.  We need to be with them every step of the way.

Death is a sacred and intimate moment that we owe our loved ones. We need to be there and experience it with them. Dying well is critical to living well.

 

In honoring them, in honoring the death process, loved ones need to be with the loved one, yet many negative ideas on death prevent this important time of bonding.   Seeing death as the enemy, as a bad word, and as something to be avoided, leads to regrets later.  It not only affects the dying loved one in a negative way, but it also prevents healthy healing later for the surviving person.

How many times, do individuals not speak about the person’s condition, avoid the disease, maybe even avoid the dying person?  How many times, do individuals chastise other family members for speaking about death to the dying, or express emotion.

In addition to dismissing death, many hide emotion.  They think one must be strong for the loved one who is dying.  This prevents true expression of love.  It incurs unresolved issues that can later haunt the bereaved.  Most importantly, it prevents the dying to express their own emotions with the loved one.  So many chances are lost when death is not spoken about with the dying, or emotions are not permitted to be shared in this intimate moment.

So what do we speak about to the dying?  David Kessler and Elisabeth Kubler Ross would simply state, “listen”.  By listening, we give ourselves to the dying, and we also allow them to open up.  No conversation is wrong.  It allows the dying to express their frustrations, their fears, their dreams. It allows closure in things that may never find closure.

Somedays, certain conversations about the reality of death may not be beneficial.  Other days, simply talking about the game and allowing the dying to live suffices.  Other times, discussing death can help the person face the reality and discuss important matters, or share certain feelings.  It is critical in these narrowing days of life, that one shares what one feels.  To hide and take away this precious time of mutual disclosure will never be there again.

Hence it is important to share things, to discuss death, to discuss anything and most importantly listen.  It is also crucial to share emotion, to allow the dying to know it is fine to be cry too!  Too many times,  individuals masquerade their feelings in these final precious moments.

Dying well involves communication, sharing, emotion and togetherness. Please also review our Pastoral Thanatology Certification

 

Death is part of life and not something that should be done wrongly.  Dying wrongly or experiencing death with a loved one is not about how one dies but how one experiences that death or process.  One who experiences death with communication and no false faces is not denied the dignity of it.  One who sojourns the dying to the final gate, experiences its entirety.  It is far from pleasant but when dying and loved ones experience death fully together, then it far more healthy in the short term for the dying and the long term for the mourner.   It is a moment in time that is intimate and precious and one we owe our loved ones to experience fully with them.

That is the pain of life but it is part of life.  We must live life to the fullest and live it correctly.  Death is no different.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  Care of the dying is an important field and the Pastoral Thanatology Certification can help one in helping others die well and in peace.

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on the Dying and Hope

Dying is part of life.  Dying is not a failure but a pivotal part of human experience.  No-one truly knows what is like to die but individuals can learn how to face it.  Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler wrote extensively on death and the needs of the dying.  They discussed vital aspects in how to counsel and listen to the dying.

One of the biggest things they emphasized was to treat the dying as if they are still alive.  To many times, the dying are seen merely as an old shell of what they once were.  The dying are defined by their disease, not who they were.  The term my “dying grandfather” is applied instead of my “grandfather who is dying”.  Dying is not the essential quality of the person.  The essence of the person remains.

Treating the dying as living human beings is the first key in Pastoral Thanatology

 

When listening to the needs of the dying, one needs to see the full humanness of the person.  They need to see the light within the person’s eyes, not the disease, the machines keeping the person alive, or the crippled body.  The person still exists.

It is essential to treat the dying with dignity and respect.  They deserve to be spoken to about their condition.  They deserve to be involved in the decisions, if conscious.  They deserve to be recognized.  This is family should not shun the conversation of death, or hide their conversations outside the hospital room.  The dying need to be treated as living.

The dignity of the dying is critical to maintain as a living person.   They need to be listened to, spoken to, and not treated as if they already dead.  Hope should never be denied.  Hope is a key element.  While some may remained to the reality of approaching death, hope can continue to fuel the dying.  Since they are alive, hope is still always alive.  To die with hope is not a bad thing.

Dreams of a cure, or a miracle are not bad things.  Too many times, doctors and healthcare professionals see death as defeat and not part of life.  Once the disease progresses to a certain point, they no longer view the person as alive.  They sometimes dismiss hope because of their own defeat.  Death, however, is not defeat.  Death is natural and is as part of life as birth.  Hope for life even during terminal illness does not mean one is in denial of his or her condition but that one is alive and ready to face any challenge, even to the very last breath.   This is the essence of the human spirit and the true meaning of being alive.

Never deny hope to the dying. Hope and dignity are essential to the dying process. Miracles may or may not happen, but noone should be denied hope. Please also review our Pastoral Thanatology Certification

 

One cannot label the dying as dead but treat them as alive.  One must see in the dying, the face of a man or woman in her prime, not defined by old age or disease.  Whether one believes in miracles or does not, whether one is spiritual or not, one cannot dismiss hope if they work with the dying.   Hope is a powerful thing.  Whether it prolongs life or does not, it definitely does not hurt the person.  If the hope is well rounded in reason but yet optimistic, one can live while they are yet dying.

One cannot dismiss the final time of death as wasteful or useless.  There is always a reason.  More time to learn, or teach others.   Family may come closer, or learn new things during the dying process.  Maybe the dying wishes to see one last person.

It is important to grant hope but also to discuss death, to let the dying know they are still a complete person.  They can accept death with dignity as well as fight for every breath, or they may succumb to death with the love of others surrounding them.   Only if the person is given the dignity they deserve while dying is there a true possibility for a happy death.

Dignity and hope are key elements of living the fullness of death.  It may seem contradictory to say living the process of death but that is what it truly is.  When we view the dying as already dead, there is no true process, no true experience of this ultimate event.  Death is part of life and hope and dignity are essential elements of “living” a “healthy” death.

I recommend reading the classics of Kubler Ross, as well as David Kessler’s works on the matter.  Their insight, experience and analysis of death are essential to anyone working in the field of hospice, pastoral thanatology or grief counseling.

If you would like to learn more about death and dying, or would like to become certified in Pastoral Thanatology, then please review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.

 

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on Palliative Care and Assisted Suicide

Good article on the importance of funding palliative care and assisting life and dealing with suffering than ending life through assisted suicide.  Pastoral Care is about preserving life and helping others find comfort in the end of life.

Pastoral Care never endorses assisted suicide but looks for helping others overcome. Please also review our Pastoral Thanatlogy Certification

The article, “Catholic Medical Association: fund palliative care, not assisted suicide”  by JD Flynn states,

“Palliative care involves medical care and pain management for the symptoms of those suffering from a serious illness, and refraining from taking actions that directly take the life of the patient, as opposed to the practices of assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

To read the entire article please click here

Please also review our Pastoral Thanatology Certification and see if it meets your needs

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Hospice Care Reform

Terminally ill patients deserve good care during their last months.  Hospice is a critical aspect to that.  Hospice needs to ensure that patients are cared for and meet standards that ensure the best qualify of care for the dying.

End of life care and hospice is important and needs to be at its best. Please also review our Pastoral Thanatology Program

The article, “Terminally Ill Patients Deserve Hospice Care Reforms” by Ross Marchand states,

“Every year, hospices offer millions of sick and vulnerable Americans a refuge from medical tests and endless injections in their final days. In 1982, lawmakers realized that a growing network of hospices offered similarly effective but more pleasant care than hospitals for terminally ill patients, at a fraction of the cost.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it meets your academic and professional standards

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Hospice and End of Life Care

Hospice has been a big part of end of life care since 1970.  It is an essential comfort giving service to the dying.  It allows the terminally ill to receive the pain management and comfort they need in their final days.   Many unfortunately never utilize this service and instead suffer more than they need to in the final days.

End of life care and hospice are important services that allow the dying to receive the care they need. Please review our Pastoral Thanatology Program

Hospice has always been about improving care and comfort for the dying.  In the article, “Hospice: Improving Care at the End of Life”, the author, Mary Kane, answers some basic hospice questions and why it so critical to better care at end of life.  She states,

“When hospice first started to take off, there was a lot of enthusiasm and a sense you were rescuing a person from the clutches of a medical care system gone mad.  That has eroded. Hospice has become both a business, in the sense people are making a lot of money on it, and it’s become routine. Now just about half of Medicare recipients use hospice before they die.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Hospice is growing and it is being seen more important everyday, but many still need to understand its importance in their own end of life care.  To learn more about thanatology and the needs of the dying, please review our Pastoral Thanatology program

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Dying at Home

Palliative care helps individuals face life threatening illnesses with compassion and care.  Hospice helps those who are terminal.  Both can give the comforts of home during an illness or near death.  Is dying at home overrated or is it truly better?

Dying at home is a luxury not all have. Please also review our pastoral thanatology program and see if it meets your academic needs

The article, “Is Dying at Home Overrated?” by Jon Han looks at this question in detail.  He states, 

“It is emotionally and intellectually compelling that patients should die in their own homes, surrounded by loved ones in a comfortable, familiar environment. For patients dying of end-stage disease, be it cancer, heart disease or something else, even the best hospitals are unlikely to be able to “fix” the underlying problem.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Dying at home has many benefits if possible.  It can give the emotional and spiritual needs a person needs.  Please review our Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it meets your educational and professional needs.

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on Different Cultures and Dying

As a counselor who deals with death and dying, it is important to have a strong grasp of different cultures and their views of death.  Pastoral Counselors and chaplains come across many different views on death not only within main stream creeds but also other religions not as common in the United States.

While grief is universal, it is nonetheless culturally experienced in different ways. Please also review our Grief Counseling Certification

The article, “Living with dying: Different cultures treat death in different ways” by  Rev. Matthew von Behrens discusses how chaplains need to be aware of the differences of the people they come into contact with.  He briefly describes a few different cultures on their views of death.  The article states,

“Experiencing differences in how various cultures view the end of life can help us understand our own traditions better, as well as develop a greater appreciation and respect for others. Here are three traditions I have encountered in my work as a chaplain at the UVMHN’s Porter Hospital and Helen Porter Rehabilitation and Nursing and practices within them”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Pastoral Thanatology Certification and see if it meets your professional and academic needs