"Man is not destroyed by suffering; he is destroyed by suffering without meaning."
As a physician, I have seen fear in the faces of the sick. Being human, we are scared when we come face to face with our sickness. However, fear is our worse enemy in times of illness. To give treatment chance to work, we should develop coping mechanisms. The value of spirituality is that it gives us a medium through which we can search for the meaning of suffering, give us hope and help us build resilience. By abolishing stress, we allow our body to heal.
We now know that religion and or spirituality form the basis for meaning and purpose in many patients' lives. Physicians struggle with how to help their patients to find meaning in their illness. This is even worse in terminal illness, especially in the hospital or hospice setting. In the hospitals, there are chaplains who can take care of these patients and counsel them.
In the outpatient setting where time is short, many physicians do not have time to explore their patients' spirituality with them. However, some may gently explore the issue by asking about their patients' source of hope. If they are open to let their healthcare providers discuss their source of hope with them, the physician has the chance to open discussions on the patient's spirituality with her. However, some patients are not comfortable in discussing these issues. Read more…