A parent’s spiritual needs when facing their child?s death

A survey of 56 parents whose children had died in a pediatric intensive care unit after withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies reveals that most (73%) relied on their spirituality to guide end-of-life decision-making, find meaning of their loss, and sustain them emotionally.

When asked what was most helpful to them and what advice they would offer to others at the end of life, these parents listed the following.

  • Prayer
  • Faith
  • Access to and care from clergy
  • Belief in the transcendent quality of the parent-child relationship that endures beyond death

Implicitly spiritual/religious themes identified by the parents included

  • Insight and wisdom
  • Reliance on values
  • Virtues such as hope, trust, and love

Despite the dominance of technology, most parents experience their child’s end of life as a spiritual journey. The results presented here are not unique. In another survey, 62% of adults reportedly used CAM in the previous year – when CAM included prayer specifically for health reasons.

This blog has discussed religious and spirituality as important complementary interventions before. In fact, a link on the right sidebar facilitates access to these topics. For healthcare professionals these include obtaining a spiritual history, and the role of a physician (or healthcare provider) in providing spiritual care.

9/5/06 15:43 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.