“A Lesson in Spirituality” by Dr Vidya Viswanath

2015 December 23
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IPPC_29_04_COVER.inddIt is not easy to understand how spiritual support works in a multi-religious environment unless one has lived in such a society.

In a culture where diversity of faiths and spiritual practices exist, there is potential for a complicated situation if a religious leader of one faith provides care to a person who follows another faith. Sometimes, though, the spiritual needs at the end of life can be surprising.

In the narrative entitled: ‘A Lesson in Spirituality’, published in the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, Dr Vidya Viswanath describes the story of a Hindu man with advanced cancer, battling a fecal fistula. His illiterate wife, in the author’s words, turns out to be a “perfect” spiritual caregiver.

The woman asked the husband: “If something happened to you suddenly, what would you want me to do?” The man replied that since childhood he has liked the rituals of church, and so would like a Christian funeral and burial. When he died, he was buried the way he wanted. The extended family then performed Hindu rituals.

I find the story so very uplifting – the merging of religious beliefs, all tending to connect the dying person and the family “to nature and the significant or sacred.” This story reaffirms that the essence of spirituality is the coexistence of harmony and humanity, transcendent of religion.

The Journal of Pain and Palliative care Pharmacotherapy in which this story is published, is an indexed journal that has made the narratives free access. That is a noble act on the part of the publishers, who have taken this step to help tell the story of suffering and relief to the world.

The Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy welcomes your narratives on pain, suffering and relief. Tell your story to the world and help improve palliative care awareness.

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