“Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred”
The last days of life can be extraordinary and special days, with many opportunities. Every effort should be made to create an environment which cradles the dying person in comfort and love, to use the time for healing and closure. Small things can make a big difference. It is an opportunity to provide many little acts of loving kindness.
Hospices increasingly recognize the calming properties of beauty, music, prayer, meditation and aromatherapy in creating a peaceful environment. Some people choose to create an altar in a place easily visible to the dying person. This could include special photographs, meaningful items or religious icons. Often they enjoy being in the family room where they can witness daily activity and not feel isolated. Many wish to have their bed facing a window so they can view the landscape, trees, birds and connect to nature.
As a person begins to transition out of this body and this life, it is most beneficial if he or she can feel enveloped in a peaceful and loving presence. The environment surrounding the person at this time can help to facilitate that experience. One can attend to many details which make a significant difference to the patient. Family members and caregivers have the honor of creating a sacred environment as best honors the preferences or beliefs of the patient. Marty Hogan writes, “Bring in favorite blankets and pillows, pictures of family and friends, flowers, music and candles. Place sacred readings on a bedside table within easy reach. Ask them if there are any objects that have special meaning or that remind them of pleasant memories that they’d like to have with them.”
Soft lighting, gentle music, guided imagery and prayer can be helpful. The aim is that the mind be at peace, that worries and anxieties can just evaporate and that a person’s state be light and relaxed.
Contributing to a sacred environment brings awareness of the availability of spiritual support to residents, families, and loved ones. Hospice chaplains are available through the Hospice Provider and may be requested. Residents are also invited to call upon their personal clergy, pastor, or priest for prayer, sacraments, and conversation or other spiritual support persons of their choosing. These requests can be addressed at the time of admission or at a time of need during their stay upon request to a staff member. Staff can assist in making contact if family is unavailable or unable to do so.