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Meaning, faith & belief - introduction
What’s the connection between meaning, faith and belief, and dying, death and bereavement?
There are some things we all have in common. As we think about and approach the ends of our lives, and those of people close to us, we all experience a wide variety of often conflicting emotions. Grief, loss, anger and fear might co-exist alongside feelings of hope and resolution, a relief that someone is no longer suffering, or a wish to celebrate and rejoice in their life. In different ways we try to make or find meaning in our experience of illness and death, for example: by spending time with loved ones or holding ceremonies and rituals such as memorials, vigils and wakes.
When approaching discussions about dying, death and bereavement with other people, it can help to talk about the things that are most important to us, give us strength and provide meaning, for example, the beliefs and values we live by and our relationships with other people. Talking to others can help us make sense of and cope with the difficult situation we are in, while also helping us to support others and prepare them for the future.
Supporting people as they explore questions related to meaning and purpose is often referred to as “spiritual support”. The Department of Health, World Health Organization, End of Life Care Strategy and many others regard this kind of support as fundamental to meeting the needs of people approaching the end of life and those close to them.