Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on Caregiver Duties to the Dying

Many patients who are dying face a sterile environment in a hospital, not comfortable and with many good intentioned healthcare professionals.  Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals are not trained to help individuals deal with death, or are able to emotionally and spiritually offer consolation.  The death of a person is seen more as a failure than seeing death as part of a new step in existence or part of living itself.

In some cases, the dying patient is cared by also an older relative who also is facing emotional as well their own physical struggles.  This can also compound issues.

The dying patient in essence has multiple needs from a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual standpoint.  They need not only physical care but whole care of their entire essence.  Death and dying is a scary time in life but it is part of life.  Death is not a failure, nor is it something unnatural.  It is the second biggest event in one’s life next to birth itself.  Yet it is shunned due to various taboos.  Helping someone die well is part of the importance of end of life care.  Palliative Care looks to help individuals deal with cancer life diseases, while Hospice prepares the person for death by not looking to necessarily heal but manage symptoms.

Hence care for the dying is usually divided up amongst various groups from doctors to nurses to family to ministers and chaplains.  Each playing a pivotal part.   In some cases, individuals fall through the cracks and their most important emotional and spiritual needs are neglected.  To ensure complete care though, it is important to understand a patient’s rights when dying and what are the most important aspects to address for the dying

The dying have multiple physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification

 

Looking at physical needs are the first aspect.  It is essential to give comfort.  Pain management, breathing, and overall comfort is key.  Pain management looks to address pain and discomfort from a chronic and acute sense.  Unfortunately, not all pain can be caught in time and in some cases, individuals needlessly suffer from a physical standpoint.  Legal statues have been passed that insist that treating pain is essential part of care.

Beyond pain, other issues such as breathing, skin sores, insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation, dehydration, nausea and fatigue are all issues caregivers must address in providing care to the dying.  Keeping the patient comfortable and out of distress is a key part of care of the dying patient and it is a right of every human being to die with dignity and limited pain as possible.

In these cases, the six month period of hospice can supply a person with many pain management strategies. Unfortunately, many individuals do not utilize this service or consider it a taboo of giving up on life.  None of this is true.  In fact, some may recover or live longer, but this is not the goal of hospice.  Hospice is about pain management and comfort.  This is why it is so important to utilize to maintain one’s own dignity and comfort in dying.

Beyond these physical needs comes the numerous emotional and mental needs of the dying patient.  Many want to be healed or fear death.  More pastorally trained healthcare providers can also give the dying some sort of care in this regard.  First, by speaking to them as a person.  This is critical.  Caregivers need to speak to dying as the living.  Many are spoken about in the shadows as if they are already gone.  It is important to understand the emotional grief of the dying.  False promises are not encouraged but hope.  Hope that they will not die alone.  Hope that their wishes will be carried out.  Hope that they will be remembered.   And in some cases, discussing death no matter how uncomfortable.

Many dying wish to discuss the elephant in the room but are left to the side and emotionally left to themselves while family mourn them in advance or nurses treat them merely as a number.  This is truly sad because the dying are still alive.  They still have emotional needs and desires.

Beyond these emotional issues is also the spiritual.  This is a more difficult road to cross because some individuals may be of a different faith or have no faith at all.  One should speak to the family or look for cues.  One should not look to convert one to another ideal, but merely discuss faith or what the dying wishes to express and ensure that the proper religious authorities meet their spiritual needs.  Many religious cultures have a variety of needs to be met as death approaches and death anxiety can be lessened by many when religious needs are met.

As an individual embarks on the road of death, they need companions to help them.  Due to taboo of death discussions, or seeing death as a medical failure, or seeing patients not as full human beings, then dignity in death is lessened.  It is important for care givers to ensure full human dignity at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels are met for the dying.

Please also consider reviewing AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology

Resources

Care of the Dying Patient edited by David A. Fleming and John C. Hagan III

 

Stress Management and Pastoral Thanatology Article on Primary Caregiver Stress Reduction

Helping an aging family member is difficult.  Primary caregivers suffer from numerous struggles and stresses.  They give up time but also time to care for themselves.  This lack of time to care for oneself can lead to anger, grief, and guilt later.  Being there for a loved one is important and becoming a caregiver for a family member is the ultimate statement of love but one needs to ensure proper health and care for oneself.

Primary caregivers deal with stress they sometimes conceal. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program

 

Many times, the primary caregiver forgets to care about oneself spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.  This leads to their own illness or mental breakdown.  It is important then primary caregivers understand that they are only as healthy to care for the loved one as they allow themselves to be.  So it is imperative to ensure better self care and stress reduction.  Sometimes that means taking a day off.

The article, “CAREGIVER STRESS PREVENTION GUIDE” by Jessica Thomas takes a closer look at how primary caregivers can reduce stress on themselves.  She states,

“Caregiving for a family or loved one can be an extremely stressful experience for the caregiver. This stress can have a devastating impact on the caregiver’s physical and mental health and can also generate a wide range of conflicted emotions. Often caregivers find themselves feeling hopeless, as if the situation that they are in is an endless series of days and sad tasks. However, caregivers should not feel this way. There is a wide range of resources and strategies that can help caregivers successfully navigate their stress, no matter what type of caregiver situation they find themselves in”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program as well as AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program.   Both programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking four year certifications.

 

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Caregivers

Caregivers often suffer the most in their care of the ill.  This is especially true for loved ones who become the primary care givers.  Nurses also suffer seeing individuals slowly die as well.  This type of difficulty can cause problems for mental health and can lead to depression.  Those in pastoral care may also experience this type of depression.   So many times, caregivers put others first and forget about their own mental health.

After the death and sadness witnessed, many caregivers of the dying can become depressed. They need to ensure their mental health is also cared for. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program

 

The article, “Hope for those suffering from caregiver depression” by Ann Nunnelly looks closer at care giver burnout and depression.  She states,

“The caregiver position is now including spouses, children, and grandchildren. Along with this responsibility comes a need for spiritual and emotional support so the caregiver doesn’t fall prey to depression and their own physical and emotional sickness. Did you know that rough statistics show that 30% of caregivers die before those they are caring for?  In addition, an increase in auto immune disease and depression haunts an exceptionally large number of caregivers. ”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology.

Chaplains, nurses, hospice and palliative care professionals are all excellent candidates for this program

 

 

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Article on Family Grief with a Dying Loved One

Anyone can reflect on the death of a loved one and if focused can feel the panic and dread.  Immediately wishing to remove it from one’s mind, one turns attention way to more pleasant thoughts, but the reality is, many families have loved ones diagnosed with cancer or dementia and other life altering illnesses.  These individuals live with the knowledge their family member will die probably, unless a miracle, die soon.

Families can have a difficult time with dying process of a loved one. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program

 

This type of mental torture leads to grieving the death prior in many cases.  It can be anticipatory in nature.  When death does come, it may affect the initial reaction to the death.  One may feel relieved, or one may feel guilty, or one continue to grieve.  Pastoral Care givers need to help the grieving family almost as much as the person dying.

The article, “Understanding Grief for Still-Living Family Members” from Technology Networks based off Singers research found in J. Health Pyschol looks deeper at this concept of pre grief of family.  The article reveals research from Singer that discussed the reaction of families dealing with long term illness of family members.  The article states,

“The symptoms of grief people feel for a loved one facing a life-limiting illness fluctuate over time, a new study found – suggesting that individuals can adjust to their emotional pain, but also revealing factors that can make pre-loss grief more severe.  Researchers examined changes in the severity of pre-loss grief symptoms in people whose family members had either advanced cancer or dementia.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on Death and Dying

Family members who are slowly passing away is a common heart ache in families.  The slow process of the dying can lead to multiple emotions.  Anger, regret, hope, despair all mix with fearful anticipation of death but also a merciful end to the pain.  These conflicting emotions can put caregivers and other family members in difficult emotional states.  Counselors and pastoral caregivers can help these individuals, as well as the dying through this difficult process.

Caring for the dying is an emotionally difficult thing for living family. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology program

 

It is important though to understand the nature of the death, the process of dying and the emotional toll it takes on all parties.  Pastoral Thanatology is the type of counseling that many become certified in to help others learn to better accept and deal with the process of dying.

The article, “Understanding Grief for Still-Living Family Members”  from Ohio State University looks at some aspects regarding death and the living.  The article states,

“The symptoms of grief people feel for a loved one facing a life-limiting illness fluctuate over time, a new study found – suggesting that individuals can adjust to their emotional pain, but also revealing factors that can make pre-loss grief more severe.  Researchers examined changes in the severity of pre-loss grief symptoms in people whose family members had either advanced cancer or dementia.”

To read the entire article and to learn more about the study, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology program.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology

 

Pastoral Thanatology Program Article on an Ethical Will

Ethical Wills in the past have left detailed instructions on burial.  These older Jewish customs have also become today templates to express emotional or non material things that you hope to hand down to someone.  A dying person can hence list things he or she hopes to distill in son or daughter or grandchild.  In addition, other family members can create letters or videos that let the person dying what they received most from them regarding their life.  This is a difficult step for it involves acceptance of death but it allows for a better death and healing for all involved.

Ethical Wills are an beautiful way for the dying to express the more important spiritual things they impart on their loved ones.

 

The article, “What is an Ethical Will?” from “Whats Your Grief” looks at the Ethical Wills Origins and how it has evolved to allow one to pass down more spiritual things to the ones they are leaving.  The article states,

“I have now recommended ethical wills to many families who have loved ones who are dying. It is an incredible way for families to share what they will keep with them once a loved one is gone. For the person who is dying, the can share what they hope to leave behind that is not physical. Even when you cannot physically gather together, this is something you can still create. Family members can gather everyone’s written, video, or audio thoughts and share it with the person who is dying.”

To review the entire, article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program as well as AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program and see if they match your academic and professional goals.  Both programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four certification.

Pastoral Thanatology Article on Death and Dignity of the Elderly

The terminally ill face the reality of death every day.  They may initially deny and bargain but the reality eventually sets in.  How the terminally ill are treated is key to their dignity and hope.  Hope and dignity to their personhood is key.  One does not set out to rid one of hope but one also hopes to care and treat the symptoms of the terminally ill and guide them through reality.

One of the keys of respecting the dignity and hope of the dying is to treat them as the living.  Too many times, doctors and other healthcare physicians dismiss the terminal ill as a lost case.  Death is not seen as part of life but a defeat.  On the contrary, death is an important part of our lives and how we “live” death is as important as how we lived our entire life.  In doing so, the dignity of the dying is respected at the highest level by keeping them part of their own dying process. They should not be ignored, left out of decisions, or treated as children.  The topic of death should not be avoided as if taboo, but truthfulness and respect should be applied to the dying.  They need to be part of the process as much as possible.

It is important that the dying play a role if they can in the process of death. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thantology training program

 

In also respecting their dignity, hope should be nourished.  False claims should not be presented but an open reality to hope should always exist.  To dismiss one’s dreams and hopes is to disrespect the fire and spark of the human spirit itself.  One can work with the dying and apply appropriate alternative therapies and give openness to the dying’s hopes and dreams.  This does not mean one exists in a state of denial.  On the contrary, this means, one accepts the dire situation and the nature of the disease, but also expresses the hope that is inherent to human dignity.

In nourishing both the dignity of living the death process as well as hope, those in pastoral care and pastoral thanatology can better treat the emotional element of the dying.  It is as equally important that hospice or health providers not only treat and alleviate suffering of the body, but also the mind.  This is why pastoral thanatology is so important in hospice.

If we do not understand the needs of the dying from an emotional standpoint or treat the dying as living, then we miss the entire point of pastoral care for the dying.  We also miss the point of the human condition and the importance of death in the entire process of life.  Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler were both pioneers in their field in expressing the rights and needs of the dying.  They both dedicated their life to helping others experience death.  They also helped train and educate so many people about death.

If we do not understand death now, we will not be able to have a better death ourselves, nor be equipped to help one’s loved one’s experience death.  So many regrets and un-needed pains exist because the dying experience was not properly conducted in terms to expression of emotion or inclusion of the dying in their own affairs. Death is seen as the final chapter and as a scary one at that.  It is fine to be intimidated by it, but it is part of life and like all aspects of life, it is critical that we live death to its fullest.  We need to respect it as much as we respect birth and respond to it properly.

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

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