Pastoral Thanatology Program Video on Death and Dying

Death and dying is part of life and living.  Living well means also dying well.  How one philosophically, mentally, emotionally and physically approaches the topic of death is critical to one’s final days.   Dying can be very unique for different people.  It can occur quickly or slowly but for all it will come and how we approach it and understand it is not only important for oneself but also our loved ones.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thantology Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to individuals and qualified professionals interested in Pastoral Thanatology.

Please review the video below on Death and Dying

Pastoral Thanatology Program Blog and Spirituality in Healthcare

Some may question spirituality with a physician or in healthcare but when treating the totality of the person there is always some type of spirituality.  Healthcare professionals should not cross certain boundaries with personal faith but many individuals have spiritual needs and emotional pains.  It is important to be more holistic in treatment approach of the entire person.

Care of the sick or dying is more than medical treatment. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program


The article, “Does spirituality belong at the doctor’s office?” by Jen Rose Smith looks closer at the issue of spirituality and the doctor’s office.  She states,

“Graham has defined spirituality as “our innate ability to connect — to connect to others, to our environment, to the transcendent mystery and to our true, deepest self.” Like Sweet, he said modern medicine’s focus on efficiency leaves out that broader view of patients’ well-being and their spiritual and religious needs during illness.”

To review the entire article, please click here

Many physicians and healthcare professionals struggle with the basic interaction beyond the medicine and hence miss the spiritual needs of their patients.

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.

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Blog on Decisions After Your Gone: The Will

Death is such a feared subject that many families put off discussing it.  This prevents communication that can enhance closeness as well as clear miscommunication and heal old wounds.  Beyond the fear of death, discussing or thinking about the “what if” is even more dangerous if anyone neglects putting their wishes on paper if they die or if they are injured long term.  This can not only lead to a disregard of one’s wishes but also lead to multiple assets being misused or lost.

Everyone should have a Will, a Living Will and Power of Attorney document.  Like insurance, it does not mean one anticipates the worst, it merely means one is prepared for the worst.  When such documents are not prepared, after death, ensuing chaos can occur with bills, inheritance battles, state interference and overall bitterness.  Likewise, when someone is very sick, on a ventilator, a feeding tube, or in a coma, one’s wishes may or not be met.  A legal bind document can resolve these issues and ensure that what one wishes is properly handled.

There are three basic documents that ensure a calm legal atmosphere after death, or during a dying phase or possible long term illness.  The first is the Final Will and Testament.  This document ensures that one’s financial and legal business is resolved according to one’s wishes after death.   It first gives an individual the power to resolve all financial and legal issues in your name.  This individual is your personal representative and ensures that all expenses of funeral, bills and debts are paid immediately following death.  Utilization of existing funds as well as life insurance are used to pay off any debts.  This individual also ensures sell of property and transfer of inheritance and fulfillment of any final wishes.  Also extremely important are one’s final wishes at the funeral and how the body is to be respected, via burial or cremation.  Obviously, the executer of one’s will is important to ensure one’s wishes are met This executive of your will must be a very trusted person that you know will be around after your death.

Secondly, there are a variety of beneficiaries that are listed on the will.  You can distribute individual possessions but primarily, homes, cars, financial legacy are left to primary beneficiaries.   They can be listed in order as well, if one is no longer alive, proceeding down a chronological order.

A Living Will is important to ensure that one’s medical wishes are met. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program


The legal binding of a will depends merely upon a signing an official form and having a non family related witness and notary sign it.  Some individuals prefer going to an attorney and that is fine as well. Ultimately, anyone, young or old, should have a Will in place.  As one becomes married, has children or accumulates assets, this becomes even more imperative.

Not all disasters result in death and this is why it is also important that one’s wishes are met in the final two documents; A Living Will and Power of Attorney.  These two documents are closely related.  One deals with medical issues while alive if unconscious or unable to make decisions and the other deals with giving a particular person certain powers to carry out your life.   A Living Will hence deals with a multitude of issues if you become extremely ill and unable to function.  A Living Will dictates medical procedures according to one’s wishes.

Among the numerous things that can arise during a medical emergency in which you lose consciousness can be how your care is to be properly administered.   How long do you wish to be left on a ventilator, or feeding tube?  If a comma results and one is brain dead, how long do you wish extraordinary measures to be carried out?  Do you wish to be resuscitated?   What is your preferred pain management?  Furthermore, do you wish to have organs donated if not listed on your license?   These are extremely personal decisions and if no written documentation exists to guide physicians or family, then one’s medical care can be dictated from outside sources.

A Power of Attorney plays an important role in this.  If a person is listed to fulfill your care needs while incapacitated then they can dictate the policies or if No Living Will is in place, carry out what you wanted from merely discussions although again this leads to the issue of trust.  A Power of Attorney bound to the dictates of a Living Will are always best.   The limit of the Power of Attorney is up to you.  The person can have only power during the illness, or be given only a certain amount of time.  Usually, the Power of Attorney also has other powers given to him or her.   They are able to access all legal and financial matters, access accounts and pay bills in your absence.   Again, the limitations are up to you in what your Power of Attorney can do and not do and for how long.   Again, due to death of others, sometimes, these documents need to be updated, but to have a person in place you trust is essential in planning.

Yes, death can be a difficult discussion but it is an important one.  This aversion to death and dying talk is not healthy.  It is part of life and can open many conversations that are critical to relationships but most importantly it can open discussions about legal and medical ramifications that are critically important.  Written and legally binding documents are essential to prevent disputes and one’s wishes not being honored.

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 open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology

Pastoral Thanatology Program Video on World Religions and Dying

When helping the dying, it is also critical to help them with their spiritual beliefs.  This may well involve one dealing with another one of a different faith.  It is important to try to find one a representative of one’s faith as soon as possible if death is approaching or if one needs spiritual rituals conducted, but if not, and it is not possible, it will be important to be able to sojourn with the dying.

It is important to respect the dying’s wishes, their religious beliefs and to listen.  It is also helpful to have some knowledge of other faiths and the beliefs that coincide with dying.  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 open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology.


Please also review the video on death beliefs

Pastoral Thanatology Program Video AIHCP

Care of the dying is essential.  All human beings deserve to die with dignity.  They deserve not just to have their physical needs met but also their spiritual, emotional and mental.  The dying deserve to die with dignity-minimization of pain and comfort.  They should die with kindness and love.  Unfortunately this is not possible for all, but for the ones who are able, family, chaplains and caregivers can provide the love and support to help the dying leave this world with peace.

Pastoral Thanatology is key in this.  It looks at pastorally helping the dying in all phases of human existence.  It goes well beyond the physical but also addresses fear and grief as well as helping family better help the soon to be deceased.

AIHCP offers a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology.  The program in online and independent study and is open to qualified professionals.


Please review AIHCP’s video for its Pastoral Thanatology Program

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 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 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