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Spiritual and Emotional Care

When an individual and a family are living with a serious illness, medical and practical issues can seem overwhelming. Mental and emotional distress is common. Unresolved emotional and spiritual issues may be the underlying reason for the family’s anxiety and concerns.


Spiritual and emotional issues can be explored with someone who is experienced in this area. The pastoral care services of faith congregations are natural starting points for many. Most offer counseling and bereavement services for their members and others in their local communities.

If you need help finding non-sectarian guidance and spiritual care, chaplains are a good resource. Chaplains can be contacted through hospitals and nursing homes, as well as hospices.

Westchester’s hospices also offer grief counseling and bereavement groups for survivors. It is not necessary to have had a family member enrolled in hospice to use their bereavement services.

Agencies that offer general counseling can usually recommend a person who can help guide a family through the difficult emotional and spiritual questions that may emerge with a serious illness. There are also specialized bereavement services in Westchester.

Exploring Spirituality

Among the matters we may consider exploring with family or a spiritual leader are:

We never need to abandon hope, but what we hope for may change. When a cure is not possible, we can still hope for good outcomes. We can hope to have special experiences with family and friends. We can hope for ease of wellbeing, peace, and moments of personal and shared joy.

We can find meaning in the legacy we have created – contributions to family, friends, community, and the workplace. We may look to God and the role of faith in our lives. We may look at our life and see how we continue to grow in understanding and spirit.

We may want to reach out to others to let them know what they have meant to us. We may want to mend breaks within ourselves, within family, or with our God, and affirm our life and our place in the world.

In our search for meaning and connectedness, we may sense that we are part of a greater reality, a community here on earth or an eternal life.

Matters of spiritual import when one is ill or approaching death.


Contemplation, meditation, and prayer can guide us in our quest to make meaning. So can telling and listening to stories, looking at photographs, creating objects (like recordings, videos, scrapbooks, artwork), and making plans.

Contemplating Mortality” is a recording of a thoughtful conversationa on end of life from Krista Tippet’s program On Being (National Public Radio).