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Spiritual care

But of course, so many people don't talk a religious language now. That doesn't mean they haven't got a spiritual need. At the moment, we have a very senior nurse doing a research project looking at spiritual needs. She has chosen as the title for her thesis "A Search for Sources of Meaning and Sense of Worth in People Who are Dying." I think that spiritual pain can be very much the feeling that there is not meaning that you're not worth anything, you're very much what has happened in the past. A whole burden can be really the heaviest thing that a patient endures and I think the best way to reach that is simply to listen. I mean, they don't want us to give answers and explanations when they make comments like, "it seems so hard, why should this happen to me or, even harder, to my daughter or my husband?" The answer is not to try and explain, please no explanations, but to share and the response of listening. You need to come as a vulnerable person yourself to give that kind of attention. And you need, I think, to make your own search for meaning in the terms that make sense to you, and to be constantly on the search. I hope that St. Christopher's with hospice place for travelers is itself a traveler in that way and that way and that individual people working here are themselves travelers, because there's always something new to be learned in this field. The journey that you see people make, I'm thinking of somebody years ago saying to me, "I do not want to die. I do not want to die," then three weeks later saying, "I only want what is right." And he's made a journey there himself, he was a person of faith. People can do it without having a particularly religious background although I do think that Christian foundation, Christian faith which we were concerned with when we founded this although many, many people working here don't have that commitment, and certainly we'd never ask it of patients. And Anybody is welcome, of faith, no faith, different faiths, and so on. You can be a good Atheist in the middle of St. Christopher's and be perfectly comfortable. But I do think that actually, the Christian faith has something to say about God sharing the suffering. We don't have an answer, but we have a person who knows what it's like.

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