LIFE Before Death #27: Faith & Dying

2011 November 18
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LIFE Before Death Wins Accolade Award!

Short Film 27 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In “Faith & Dying”¬†we discover how different belief systems inform the nature of the end of life experience and how hospice and palliative care services can offer essential spiritual support.

“What defines quality of life when your living with terminal illness and you’re particularly sick is totally different to what defines your quality of life as a healthy individual,” explains Dr Bernard LaPointe (Canada). “You and I will define our quality of life very much by our autonomy, by the fact that we are well in the body and can do what we want. The person who is dying… the importance of the body will take less and less space, and more and more importance will be brought on the bonds with the others — the relationships with your family and your friends — and with your God… Spirituality is very much part of quality of life when you’re at the end of your life.”

“To treat a human being optimally we not only have to treat the physiological side but also the psychological side, the interpersonal side and that spiritual existential side,” reports Dr Jay Thomas (USA).

“What has grown around the world is a concern for one’s spirituality,” reflects Dr David Morrison (Canada). “And that’s separate from religion. In other words, people start to be able to bring together all of the loose ends and people who are very, very good at that are the nurses in every culture.”

“I can tell you that in my country the spiritual aspect of this period of end of life is very important,” reports Professor Michel Daher (Lebanon). “That’s why most of the time we have a religious man who is called to be nearby the patient.”

“Since most people in the Middle East are Muslims, they still believe that if they were inflicted with cancer they have to accept it with all the suffering,” observes Professor Michael Silbermann (Israel).

“Yes, they say if God wants me to have pain I’ll support pain,” continues Professor Daher. “And they don’t ask for pain relief and pain support.”

“The religious support can give people strength, no doubt about it,” reflects Dr MR Rajagopal (India). “But I have not seen so-called spiritual leaders when they are going through that sort of thing and taking it all philosophically – I’ve also seen them suffer, just like other human beings.”

“You know for me, thank goodness I have my very strong faith,” acknowledges Don (USA). “Without that I would not have made it.”

“Typically people who are very religious or somewhat atheistic tend to have a little less distress over the concept of dying, or being gone,” concludes Dr Stephen Connor (USA).

Featuring: Dr Bernard LaPointe (Canada), Dr Jay Thomas (USA), Dr David Morrison (Canada), Maureen Kelly (USA), Professor Michel Daher (Lebanon), Dr MR Rajagopal (India), Dr Stephen Connor (USA), Don (USA).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the LIFE Before Death website…

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