“What has been the meaning of my life?”
“What happens to me after I die?”
“Please forgive me.… I forgive you.”
In my very first blog post almost ten years ago I told the story of a woman who was struggling with making an end-of-life treatment decision for her mother. She told me, “I think I’m feeling guilty because I haven’t visited mother enough.” That encounter became a metaphor for me. When making end-of-life decisions, patients and families are most often struggling with emotional and spiritual issues.
On February 4th I am giving a virtual talk for Mission Hospice titled, “Spiritual and Emotional Concerns at the End of Life.” (1:00 – 2:30 pm Pacific Time or 4:00-5:30 pm Eastern) You can register here.
Of course… I’m a chaplain. It’s my job to seek out emotional and spiritual concerns. My colleagues – doctors, nurses and social workers – tend to agree with me. I have summarized these emotional and spiritual concerns in a brief list. Below is my list, which grew out of what I have observed in my patients, their families, in my own life, and by reading the writings of the mystics and “death-and-dying” literature.
Spiritual and Emotional Concerns at the End of Life
(I have provided links to previous posts on some topics.)
- Answering the question, “What is the meaning of my life?” (I wrote about here.)
- Seeking forgiveness and reconciliation
- Gaining a sense that what is happening is okay: “Letting be”
- Gaining a sense of being part of a greater whole, often expressed as living beyond death (see here and here).
- Coming to terms with the denial of death (see here)
- Letting go of all I have worked for over a lifetime: “The illusion of the self”
- Coming to terms with the loss of control
Over the next two weeks heading toward my presentation, I will pick a couple of these and write about them.
I welcome your suggestions to add to my list. Please email me at [email protected].