The need for spirituality - Assisting a family member


Assisting a family member

Assisting a family member

The need for spirituality

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The need for spirituality is too often overlooked in assistance.

A widespread opinion is that this field should be treated only by religious, which is partly true, but also people who give assistance can deal with it, at least on a simple level.

The term spirituality does not necessarily have to suggest a religious belief: spirituality is something much deeper, wider and more personal.

An individual who has profound values ​​lives his life in their respect and is also ready to sacrifice a part of himself, sometimes even life itself, for the respect of these ideas. Values ​​are therefore very important in the life of individuals and it is essential to take them into account when caring for a patient. Their behaviors must be self-assessed with great attention, they must be harmonious, respectful and not arouse indifference or hostility towards people and their ideas, under penalty of a very superficial relationship and the feeling of being misunderstood and not accepted.

Beliefs also have a huge impact and must be respected, especially in times when a person is, for various reasons, in difficulty.

Current society has changed the way of understanding the sacred; while witnessing a sharp reduction in vocations and a diminished participation of the population in religious rites and cults, a deep interest in the spirit was born hand in hand. If in the past devotion was almost an obligation, today spirituality requires a benefit in terms of emotional balance, increase in energy and optimism to overcome difficulties; moreover, many people go in search of the "inner experience". Many subjects establish with the divine a "confidential" approach, which makes them feel free to confess their shortcomings, to ask for help and much more. The therapeutic effect of devotion is enormous: it gives meaning to everything that exists, promotes the acceptance of reality and also justifies its dramatic aspects. The beautiful legend shown in the box on the previous page clarifies very well the relationship that exists with spirituality and above all how it is an intimate aspect that is part of every man's life.

Knowing the core, the most intimate part of people, when possible, is an absolute priority, especially when there are terminal diseases that also require strong psychological and spiritual support. As relatives you will be in contact with the family member, surely you will know him better than a stranger can know him. Many difficulties can instead arise with volunteers or friends who are unfamiliar with the person's experience: the lack of confidence can be an obstacle to dialogue.

The promotion of spirituality should be a valid tool, not only in moments of illness. The path on the inner path can be paved with problems; many concepts related to the salvation of the soul can lead to a series of ethical doubts and, sometimes, make assistance difficult or even impossible.

Even the inner suffering caused by questions that cannot be answered can become a cause for great torment; obviously these dilemmas must be addressed with prepared people and, in all cases, it is good to also consider this aspect.

The loss of faith as a result of a mourning event can add up to pain for the extinct and cause a real earthquake in the life of a believer.

Physical pain in some cases can be considered as a form of purification that must be accepted for one's own or others' salvation. Fortunately, this belief is slowly leaving room for new concepts, but for many years it has been a very neglected area: letting a person suffer for months or years is certainly neither logical nor human.

What has been said so far, albeit briefly, renders very well the idea of ​​how spirituality can condition the life of an individual and sometimes cause periods of deep crisis, for this reason if the person requests spiritual help it is important that even a volunteer is able to orient himself or at least has the sensitivity necessary to understand the problem without underestimating it.

For those who require more or less explicit support, it is necessary to prepare a planned strategy so that the assistant does not find himself unprepared.

The main interventions are based on active listening and spiritual support.

Active listening must allow the person in difficulty, even if not ill, to be able to freely express their dilemmas in a context of understanding, of trust, in an environment in which time passes completely into the background. Precisely for this reason it is good to disconnect the phones, turn off the television, radio and maybe leave the children to the grandparents. The feeling that the patient must feel is that of feeling understood, of having a friend ready to interpret his feelings and experiences. The presence of a person means a lot, it means "being there" when you need it.

Even the therapeutic touch can be particularly useful as it promotes communication between people and promotes well-being; some studies claim that it may even positively influence faith. The therapeutic touch is represented by simple gestures: to shake the person's hand, to embrace it, to transmit heat through the body.

Individuals who present an alteration of this need manifest an enormous need to find meaning in their existence. Many questions may arise which require an answer. The ideal recipe is probably not at hand, but what matters is an attitude of openness and research, combined with the ability to question oneself.

Another important aspect to consider is the reminiscence of events; during this operation some particularly painful or significant episodes of existence can be remembered, shared and analyzed. It may seem obvious to remember it, but the person listening is bound to the strictest secret, in addition to unknowingly betraying the trust, it would be an act of enormous cowardice to tell third parties what is being confided, without wanting to consider the legal aspects.

Spiritual support does not necessarily have to come from a religious. Certainly the image that a priest or a monk has is definitely more incisive, but this does not mean that a volunteer or a relative can also do a good job, provided that the person in question is interested in this topic: we must not forget that any forcing on these issues is always wrong. Organizing a meeting with a priest without explicit request, especially if at the patient's home, is an act of violence absolutely to be avoided.

The expression spiritual support can take on various meanings, but in general we mean a particular assistance to the patient to help him feel balanced and connected with what transcends materiality. The need to evaluate the belief system is crucial in order to understand the real spiritual needs of each subject.

The need to want to forget the past, to forgive, to read some sacred texts, to make peace with some individuals, to increase hope and more, are some examples of what can happen in some particular moments of everyone's life. Forgiveness takes on a rather important dimension and requires an effort on the part of the subject to overcome some difficulties and reconcile with the world, with people and with their own god.

There are many dramatic events of existence that can lead the individual to embark on a path through spirituality understood as "care for the soul". Experiences such as rape or family violence (even verbal) over the years, and in particular received in childhood, cause serious repercussions in a person's emotional sphere; working on these aspects requires a lot of experience and the individual does not always manage to reconcile with his past. In such complex and delicate situations, it is better to rely on trained professionals; this does not mean that a volunteer or relative is still aware of these aspects and perhaps addresses or advises the consultation of a specialist.

Those who believe can certainly find an important comfort in prayer; the client could feel the need, therefore, where possible, this request should be satisfied, without neglecting, in any case, the possibility of a valid therapy to alleviate the suffering.

The desire to turn to a higher entity may be legitimate, but sometimes this aspect emerges in conjunction with some specific problems and in some cases it may even hide an attitude of regression. At other times, approaching religion becomes completely natural for people who have lived through difficult times in their lives.

Whatever the patient's motivations, they must be respected and never derided. It may happen that we find ourselves having to talk about topics that are completely unexpected or that a person who has never had any interest in the sacred, suddenly feels the need to fill this void; even the operator finds himself having to make speeches that he has never studied in depth and can feel uncomfortable and not up to par.

The hope that there is something beyond death, or the request for help for a sick relative, push individuals to radically change their way of life. Questions that are difficult to answer can appear: for example when the subject is diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease and decides to face a trip to a sacred place or to undertake a meditation or prayer course. Many times following a mourning, family members turn to mediums with the hope of being able to re-establish contact with the extinct; all these crucial aspects must be carefully considered and above all understood. A derisional behavior only increases frustration and creates frictions which in some cases become the cause of serious misunderstandings. Valid help can be provided by the family member or by a volunteer willing to follow the subject in these delicate moments and to protect him from "parasites" that can also squander the family's capital with the promise of making his loved one recover or meet again.

Those who assist can work on some crucial aspects such as the promotion of hope, that is, instilling the ability to look ahead, towards a future of light with an optimistic expectation. To put all this it can be useful to join aid groups, where other people share their experiences and help each other to overcome a particular moment of suffering. The understanding of subjects who have experienced the same tragedies is a very powerful drug and it is good to remember that some dramatic episodes or experiences can be imagined but never understood, if not by those who have experienced them personally.

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