Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Table of Contents 
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 105-106


Department of Anesthesiology, Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Date of Web Publication21-Aug-2013

Correspondence Address:
Deepak Gupta
Department of Anesthesiology, Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Gupta D. Commentary. Indian J Palliat Care 2013;19:105-6

How to cite this URL:
Gupta D. Commentary. Indian J Palliat Care [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Jan 19];19:105-6. Available from:

As elicited in the paper, "Spiritual concerns in Hindu cancer patients undergoing palliative care: A qualitative study", palliative medicine proffers professional and personal caregivers to embrace the ubiquity of spirituality without overlooking individuality of patients to whom they provide professional or personal care-giving services at the end of life. Despite innumerable reiterations that religion and spirituality are dissimilar, the ways of living of patients have marks of religions they are born in or they have embraced. Spirituality encompasses the ways of living that are not limited by the realms of religions; however, the essences of spirituality almost always originate from the nuances of the religions patients follow.

This understanding is extremely important for palliative care providers so that they can elicit individuals' spiritual needs and provide appropriate resolutions for these needs. As the process of dying is a continuation of the process of living, the conscious and sub-conscious quests of individuals for spirituality follow this lead too. The only changes that can be observed may be the intensities of these spiritual cravings at the end of life. As home hospice services are usually preferred by the individuals as long as their symptoms do not require inpatient hospice management, similarly, their unique and personal spiritual expectations sprouting from their own life-experiences need to be nurtured that will guide them through their end of life processes. The questions in individuals' minds at the end of life may be similar as a group but the answers they are attempting to seek may be different depending again on their pre-morbid life.

Alternatively, as a result of the positive aspects of not-so-positive psychological phenomenon called counter-transference, palliative medicine provides the palliative care personnel ample opportunities to visualize life and death from the perspectives of various cultures or religions or ethnicties in general and the perspectives of individuals in particular. These educational experiences motivate the palliative care personnel to realize that spirituality is primarily a phenomenon of surrender to "Supreme Who is Still Enigmatic for Science" and acceptance of the existence of "Supreme Who is Still Out-of-Bounds for Human Senses" so that the ever-questioning minds and insatiable brains can rest in peace at least during their processes of dying before sailing through to their inevitable deaths.

The questions will be many. The answers will be many too. However, the non-resolving question is whether there will be peace of mind that everyone strives for but that keeps eluding them throughout their lives without giving a breather even during the processes of dying. It is my impression that the pathway for peaceful mind lies in spirituality which may be as general as basic ingredients of human genome (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine) and which may be as specific as uniqueness of individuals' deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The simple understanding for philosophy in spirituality can be ascertained by the inclusive word "spirit": Human spirit to stand up to tough times but human spirit to stand down too against eventualities; human spirit to tirelessly quiz and quest for answers but human spirit to lay back too while enjoying every moment of life till death for what it is without worrying why it is.

In summary, there is a dire need for medical research, brief reports, and clinical investigations to enrich the palliative medicine model of patient care with transcontinental and inter-cultural understanding of spirituality from the eyes, the minds and the souls of the patients cared for during their terminal phases of living and dying. It is my understanding that spiritual goals are similar across the board but individuals always attempt different pathways to gain and sustain internal solace whether they are in the processes of living or dying. Additionally, the spiritual care services by palliative care personnel do not end with the patients' deaths because care for the surviving family and friends also entails family-specific spiritual care model for the grieving family and friends so that they can heal appropriately and move on with positive energy after the deaths of their beloved ones.


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Online since 1st October '05
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow