Spiritual Palliative Care for Religious Asians
Although the so-called “believing without belonging” phenomenon is increasingly becoming the religious stance in the world, Asians are still deeply religious in nature. Deep-seated faith commitments affect people’s perceptions of life’s various circumstances. When it comes to the experience of pain and suffering, widely known studies have already concluded the paradoxical effect of religion as either stress-buffering or anxiety-inducing, depending on the hermeneutical leaning of patients. Whatever the case may be, in addition to addressing their physical pain, palliative care providers need to consider the psychological, existential, and spiritual anxieties of suffering people. Holistic palliative care is needed to address “total pain.” To accomplish this, care providers need to be aware of what their Asian patients think about pain and suffering, their psychological struggles, their existential anxieties, and what considerations they are taking in deciding the nature and level of treatment they wish to receive. This calls for an interdisciplinary approach to palliative care, especially between medical sciences and religious studies. Although the reality of the plurality of religions in Asia entails a multiplicity of religious views, there are common perceptions shared by Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Knowledge of these dominant themes will help care providers become more effective in dealing with suffering patients.