Your spiritual needs at the end of life | Cancer Research UK
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Your spiritual needs at the end of life

Coping with cancer

This page discusses spiritual needs at the end of life. Not everyone is religious or has a spiritual practice. But some people discover this side of themselves at this time. Finding out they are dying can strengthen some people’s beliefs. Other people reconsider their spiritual beliefs. They may change what they believe. Or discover new beliefs.

Talking to other people

The most important thing is that you feel your spiritual needs are being taken care of. Tell the people caring for you if you have particular religious or spiritual needs. You may want a spiritual leader to visit you regularly during your last few weeks of life. Many people who have a faith find it helpful to talk to their religious adviser regularly in the weeks before they die. If you are in hospital or a hospice they will be able to visit you there.

Other people prefer to share their beliefs and experiences with a partner, close friend or nurse. It is important that you are able to explore and express your spiritual needs in the last few weeks of your life, if you want to. Spiritual care can also include

  • Ensuring that your self worth and dignity are supported in the way that you would like
  • Being offered any spiritual care you need
  • Being able to choose where you would like to die (for example at home, in hospital or in a hospice)
  • Having the people you want around you when you die

Your spiritual needs may change over time and in response to your treatment and care. Your relationships can also play a part.

Tell the people caring for you if you have specific requests about how you would like your body to be handled before, and after, you die. If you are in a hospital or hospice, the medical staff will write this in your notes. Then everyone involved in your care is aware of your cultural or religious needs.

For more information

Find out about

Choosing where to die

Advance care planning

For general information and support

Contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 (Open 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Share experiences on our online forum with Cancer Chat

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Updated: 6 March 2014