How to Meet Spiritual Needs of Hospice Patients


As your loved one battles with a terminal illness, hospice care can ease their physical pain and symptoms. But what about the emotional turmoil they may silently be struggling with or the spiritual pain they have as their life draws to a close? The founder of modern-day hospice care, Dame Cicely Saunders, once said that “spiritual care is not an optional extra for the dying.” In other words, spiritual care plays a necessary part of end of life care. At Ethos Hospice, we can help support your loved one’s spirit, no matter what their personal spiritual beliefs or religion may be.

What is Spiritual Care in Hospice?

Spiritual care is designed to address an individual’s spiritual or religious needs, no matter if they believe in God, a higher power or hold other beliefs. For example, spiritual care and support often help people process the existential questions that human beings have contemplated for thousands of years: What is the meaning of life? What happens after we die? These types of questions can be overwhelming and stressful, especially for someone in hospice care. Spiritual care can help ease your loved one’s concerns and give them peace of mind during this time.

The Benefits of Meeting Spiritual Needs in End of Life Care

As your loved one is traveling through their final chapter, they may be grappling with doubts about if they truly made a difference in the lives of others and if their own life has value. Spiritual care in hospice can relieve your loved one of these concerns, offering:

  • Comfort and Peace. From personal regrets that they never resolved to their own existential fears, spiritual care can bring your loved one calmness, contentment and peace. Chaplains can pray with your loved one and give them words of wisdom and advice that will comfort and relax them in their final days.
  • Meaning. Life is all about searching for meaning and purpose. Maybe your loved one never felt like they found their true calling or perhaps they just need to reflect back on what their purpose has truly been. Through conversations with chaplains, spiritual care can help your loved one see how meaningful their life has been.
  • Greater Quality of Life. When those in hospice are able to let go of their fears and find emotional and spiritual wellness, they are able to enjoy the time they have left with their family and friends. Spiritual care is meant to relieve your loved one’s spiritual pain to help improve their quality of life.

“Hospice is all about living well,” Pastor Tessa Hanson, Ethos Hospice and Home Care Chaplain explained. “We want your life, whatever amount is left of it, to be the most comfortable and the best that it can be.”

Spiritual Care Services Provided by Ethos Hospice

At Ethos Hospice, spiritual care is all about meeting the patient where they are at in their spiritual beliefs or religious practice. Shelby Morrow, Director of Ethos Hospice, knows that attending to spiritual needs is a very intimate experience.

“That spiritual component is very specific to the patient and what they need spiritually,” Shelby explained. “Some people refuse spiritual care all together, and that’s absolutely fine, that is their right. Some people have a higher need for that, so it just depends on what the patient needs.”

This intimate, personalized spiritual care is provided by chaplains and volunteer chaplains who work with Ethos Hospice patients. If your loved one worshiped at Sunday mass every week, our chaplains can lead prayer and Bible study with them. If your spouse’s or parent’s spiritual needs are more focused on working through their final thoughts and feelings about their life, our chaplains can meet with them for one-on-one spiritual counseling and guidance.

“As a chaplain, I have devotions that I will do and prayers that I will read depending on the person,” Pastor Tessa Hanson explained. “A lot of times we’ll just talk about their lives, get to know each other. We start as strangers, but I like to think that we end as friends.”

Our chaplains are also available to you and your family as you progress through this difficult and emotional time. They can be a shoulder to lean on if you need to cry and someone who can listen if you would like to talk; they can guide conversations between you and your loved one to help you both feel closer to each other during this time; or, they can just sit silently with you and your family during your loved one’s final days.

Once your loved one has passed, our chaplains are available through our bereavement services for the next 13 months. They can provide spiritual and emotional support, and can pray with you, sing with you and listen to stories you share as you mourn your loved one’s passing and celebrate their life.

Your Loved One’s Spiritual Needs Can Be Met with Ethos Hospice

At Ethos Hospice, we strive to make every day more comfortable and joyful for your loved one and your family. During this time, we know how important it is for your loved one to be at peace in their final days and to feel like they’re not leaving this world with regrets or fears. Our spiritual care services can comfort and guide your loved one, help them connect to their spirituality and religious beliefs, and bring you and your loved one closer during their final days, weeks or months.

To learn more about our spiritual care services offered in hospice, please contact us today at 701-356-3803.