Hospice Interdisciplinary Team Member
A Chaplain visits the patient and family to provide spiritual and emotional support. The Chaplain serves as a bridge between the Patient/Family and their place of worship. The Clergy person already known to the Patient/Family is encouraged to become part of the patient care team. A Chaplain is available 24-hours a day.
Fears of Dying
Fear of pain and suffering: Some people with a terminal illness fear pain and suffering long before they even experience it.
Helper Response: Assure patient that many people never experience pain. Most pain can be controlled or even prevented. There are many pain treatment options available through Hospice.
Fear that life will be meaningless and useless: We are taught to base our worth on what we can do. When patients can no longer do for themselves or their loved ones, their sense of value as a person is lost.
Helper Response: Encourage loved ones to assure patient of their love and need for his love his love and presence—just being with each other.
Fear of loss of independence and control: The patient is powerless to move about and engage in normal activity. He is losing control of his role in the family.
Helper Response: Encourage loved ones to allow patients to make as many choices as possible (when to eat, bathe, or rest; what to eat, etc.). Draw the patient into all decision-making.
Fear of changing body image: Disease may cause loss of teeth, hair, weight, and color. It may disfigure and cause odor. A patient may consider himself repulsive, unattractive or unwanted. He may be angry or even envious of another’s attractiveness and good health.
Helper Response: Encourage loved ones to touch the patient often and give assurance that they love him just as he is and that their love is not affected as the patient’s physical conditions changes.
Fear of reflected fear: The patient may respond to what is reflected in the loved one’s eyes—fear of watching him suffer and approach death. This may cause the patient to feign sleep, indifference, or distain—even verbally dismiss the loved one.
Helper Response: Explain to the loved ones that this potential hurtful behavior may actually be an act of love—that the patient may drive his loved ones away to give them an “out” for staying away without feeling guilty. The patient may even weigh this against one of the greatest fears—dying alone. Assure loved ones that actions of rebuff or rejections are really a cry for the opposite and encourage them to go to the patient and be honest with the patient and self: “Yes, I’m scared, too, but let’s share this together. Please don’t send me away! Don’t cut me out of this part of your life.”
Fear of loss of loved ones: A dying person grieves loosing everyone and everything.
Helper Response: What can you say? Nothing! All you can do is be with, feel with, love and hold. Assure the patient of continued love and importance.
Fear of the unknown: This fear usually relates to the moment of death—not the outcome of death, for most patients have made their peace with God. Thoughts that occur may be “What will it be like?” or “ths I must do alone and I’m scared.”
Helper Response: Instruct loved ones to arrange for the patient to never be alone. Examples of scripture that may be comforting are:
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will came again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3 KJV
…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. St. Matthew 28:20 KJV
Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31: 6 KJV
Fear of loneliness: This may be the greatest fear of all.
Helper Response: This fear will be minimized if friends and family and church members visit regularly and relate to the dying person as a living, unique individual.