RELI 448N Health Care in Spirituality

RELI 448N Health Care in Spirituality

RELI 448N Health Care in Spirituality

After viewing the film Spirituality, suffering, and illness: Conversations for healing, I have completely changed my definition of spirituality.  Before viewing this film, I believed that spirituality was how a person practiced or didn’t practice their religion.  This film made me realize that spirituality is not only different for everyone, but it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with religion.  In the film, Dr. Wright stated, “everyone has a spirituality, but not everyone has a religion.”  Our textbook states, “ Individuals now assemble elements of different belief systems to create their own spiritual system (Malloy, p.499).

The role of spirituality in health care issues is endless.  By looking at a person’s spirituality a nurse can better map a plan of care that will be more specific and one that a patient may actually participate in and follow.  Taking the time to find out what is important in a patient’s life or gives their life meaning can only enhance a patient’s participation in their care and ultimately lessen their suffering.  Dr. Wright also calls this softening a patient or family’s suffering.  She explains that a patient’s beliefs, suffering, and spirituality are all interrelated or linked in the Trinity Model. What a person believes directly relates to their spirituality.  Their spirituality than in turn will have a direct effect on their suffering. Health care professionals can use therapeutic communication to help bring out a person’s illness story. By asking questions, to help a patient connect their beliefs with their spirituality a health care professional can understand if the patient’s beliefs are enhancing or softening their suffering.  Once this is determined, a patient can be encouraged to have more spiritual counseling needed.   Sometimes just talking about their suffering makes a dramatic impact on the Patient.  Dr. Wright believes, “talking is healing”. I believe everyone has a story and if given the opportunity they want to talk about it. However, I have learned in my own nursing practice, not everyone tells their story in the same way.  It takes time and patience to get people to talk.  Sometimes you might be the nurse to initiate the conversation, but it may be another nurse on the next shift that actually makes the connection with the patient. This is the beauty of nursing.  Each one of us can make an impact.

The biggest take away from this film for me is learning that religion is not spirituality.  It seems like such a simple thing to understand, but I really didn’t get it until I watched this video.  I am ordering Lorraine Wrights’s book because I would like to learn more about helping to soften suffering and hope that I can pass this along to the other nurses on my unit.  We see a lot of cancer patients on my unit recovering between rounds of radiation and chemotherapy complications. These patients often received palliative care or Hospice consultations and I think if we can help facilitate a healing conversation and soften the patient and families suffering, they may be more willing to accept the help from Palliative or Hospice services. According to Evidence-based Practice, “There is increasing evidence that religious and/or spiritual beliefs help patients cope with fear and anxiety caused by illness” (Heering, 2018). This is so important to me professionally and personally.  It gives my life meaning and purpose to help someone find peace in facing their illness and sometimes even their death.


Gunder, S. &Herring H Spiritual needs of Hospitalized Patients. Evidenced-Based Care Sheet- CEU, 2018.

Lorraine Wright, & Insync Communications (Producers), &. (2007). Spirituality, suffering, and illness: Conversations for healing.  [Video/DVD] Lorraine Wright. Retrieved from  conversations-for-healingLinks to an external site.

Molloy, M. (2020). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill

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After viewing option # 1 video, I would define spirituality as one who has a certain belief system and follows that way

RELI 448N Health Care in Spirituality
RELI 448N Health Care in Spirituality

of thinking and living. In the same sense, “Individuals now assemble elements of different belief systems to create their own spiritual system” (Molloy, 2020 p. 499). The role of spirituality when dealing with healthcare issues depends upon what you believe. If you have a positive belief system, any health diagnosis will be dealt with in a positive manner. The same applies to a negative belief system, one would have a negative outlook on their medical diagnosis. The Trinity Model which includes suffering, belief, and spirituality are all things a person may go through when experiencing a life-threatening medical diagnosis.  The relationship between them, is that when one suffers, their belief system is activated and their spirituality is practiced or increased. Those are the 3 areas of a person’s life that would be most important while enduring a life-threatening diagnosis or chronic diagnosis. The film suggests that a healthcare professional can facilitate the “softening of suffering” by allowing the patient to have a belief system, allowing the patient to explore their spirituality, and acknowledging who is the person that is suffering the most. For an example: the patient who received the diagnosis should be the person suffering the most, however it may be the patient’s child, parent(s), spouse, or as simple as any one that loves the patient. The nurse can provide therapeutic communication, such as exploring how the patient feels about their diagnosis and how are they handling it. The nurse should provide positive coping mechanisms and listen to the patient. In other ways, a nurse can be aware of body language, treat anxiety as suffering, coordinate the proper care, and allow the patient to make informed healthcare decisions (Sullivan, 2020). The perception I have when it comes to “softening of suffering” is the same. I practice Christianity and I deeply believe any type of positive affirmations, counseling, therapeutic communications are all factors that even outside of healthcare are positive coping mechanisms that can make a person’s spirit feel better even if they are not physically well. One key concept I learned is listening; sometimes listening is the key to make the patient feel better, even if it is for one day.

Fatimah Williams-Terry

Molloy, M. (2020). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill

Sullivan, K. (2014). 6 ways nurse can reduce patient suffering. Fierce Healthcare