Spiritual/existential suffering in palliative care

Boteanu Miriam Emanuela, MD, family medicine and internal medicine, Târgu Neamț, Romania

Address for correspondence: e-mail: boteanumiriamemanuela@yahoo.co.uk

Spirituality refers to the last and deepest sense of life values, of who we are and how we live. People may in the face of dying suffer because of their inability to find a meaning in the last chapter of their lives or to get along with family and loved ones, because of the total dependency of others, due to loss of skills and due to the humiliation of not being able to take care of the most basic physiological needs.

Facing death brings up questions about what life is. They discovered smoldering aspirations and promises. Many believe that the values and beliefs they were confidant with and lived with are no longer supporting them. These are the ingredients of a spiritual crisis and of spiritual suffering. These patients may not be interested in therapeutic decisions. What difference does it make? They wonder what does it matter what type of treatment they received since no longer they are able to ‘recognize’ themselves or the loved ones.

When patients and families struggle with therapeutic decisions, often this struggle is rooted in spiritual questions. Spiritual/existential support is a core component of palliative care because struggling with spiritual questions may cause suffering and apathy if people are not supported.

Key words: spiritual, existential, suffering, palliative care

(Full text in Romanian)

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