How would you comfort a dying atheist? - page 3

Also, do you think it is okay to respect the religious views of other family members , like praying, last rites... if they insist it be done?... Read More

  1. by   oldtiger
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    How would I comfort a dying atheist? The same way I would comfort any other dying person...........by providing a hand to hold, a friendly voice, medication to control pain and anxiety, and as much dignity as possible.
    This is my answer as well. It is not about us. It is about not having a personal agenda. It is about listening and bearing witness. When we are present for the patient, truly present, it is validation that that person is worthwhile and deserving of our time.

    Many people are spiritual without being religious. Even an atheist has deep needs and existential ponderings. As a Buddhist, I am considered atheistic, yet every moment of my life, my thoughts, intentions and motivations are spiritual.

    With any patient, just be present. Listen. Bear witness.
  2. by   jadelpn
    The goal would be for the dying patient to be peaceful. A hand to hold, a cool cloth. If it is a hospice patient and you have the information that patient is an atheist, I would ask how they want their plan of care to be. If they have made a decision on who the health care advocate is they want to make decisions for them, that may have been a conversation between them that you as the nurse were not involved in. Sometimes religion is made of different parts of a whole.
  3. by   Clovery
    As an atheist, this is what would comfort me:

    - everything possible will be done to ensure my pain is minimal
    - my family & friends have adequate means for dealing with my death (e.g. they won't blame themselves, they understand my condition and medical choices, they have counsel if needed)
    - my estate and burial wishes are in order and will be executed as i desire
    - be there for me, don't let me be alone and afraid
    - make sure i understand the procedures
    - don't use phrases like "pass away" and don't tell me you're going to pray for me (even if you are)
    - remind me that from death comes new life - I actually like the idea of being worm food
    - there may be some food I'd want to taste for the last time, some song I'd like to hear
    - it's okay if my family wants to pray, but I'd prefer that they'd do it silently or keep it to a minimum while in my room. Feel free to reinforce their religious beliefs and illusions of afterlife if it comforts them.
    - if a family member would receive comfort from performing some kind of ritual, like sprinkling me with holy water, that's okay with me.
    - remember that my main concern is about those I leave behind and how my death will affect them. I'm okay with my own death, as I believe I simply cease to be when my brain shuts down. The saddest thing to me about dying is that it causes pain to the living. So please, take care of my family.
    Last edit by Clovery on Dec 10, '11
  4. by   DixieRedHead
    Oh how hard. I respect everyone's wishes. But I genuinely wish everyone could know the peace that I know.
  5. by   commonsense
    I would imagine you should support and comfort them just as you would a religious person. Only one piece of advice, do not try to get them to be religious and do not use religious sayings, such as "I will pray for you," or "I'm sure God has a plan for you." Being an atheist myself I would be pretty upset if you didn't respect my opinion not to partake in religion and forced your own beliefs on me.
  6. by   Merlyn
    Quote from stripbubbles
    Also, do you think it is okay to respect the religious views of other family members , like praying, last rites... if they insist it be done?
    Atheist are not a separate species. They are human beings who have no belief in a God or Gods Period. They bleed the same as any human being and on that note, They may or may not be afraid of death. Music helps. Reflection on their life. If the family insist on praying, the last rites or anything else of a religious nature. ask the patient. If he says yes or is unconscious it's O.K. but if he says no then his wishes must be obeyed. He is the one dying and he has as much right to die with out any religion.
  7. by   Kashia
    I would comfort. and just be there for a dying patient without outwardly doing anything.

    It is kind of hard to control if others are praying or not LOL!

    If responsible party of dying person or close family wants to call a Priest ( as Catholic Priests

    are the one to give last rites) I would not interfere in them contacting their church and

    making these arrangements.
  8. by   OCNRN63
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    How would I comfort a dying atheist? The same way I would comfort any other dying person...........by providing a hand to hold, a friendly voice, medication to control pain and anxiety, and as much dignity as possible.
    This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it's not.
  9. by   OCNRN63
    Quote from keithjones
    i agree in practice with vivalasviejas and others, but its kind of like peacefully walking someone into a fire. i want to scream at the top of my lungs you are walking into a fire! I don't mind agreeing to disagree on a lot of things but the t-shirts say it best, eternity is long ... don't be wrong!
    Please...if I am dying, don't be my nurse. I'm not an atheist, but I'm sure my religion would be the wrong religion in your mind. I don't need zealots around if I'm sick and dying. It's not all about you and what you believe.
  10. by   Merlyn
    as an atheist I don't believe in God. But I believe in an after life. I believe that if you have been good your spirit wanders forever through the corridors of the Great museums of the world feasting your eye or the highest form of human achievement. If you have been bad you are reincarnated into a toilet seat in a Camden, NJ crack house.
  11. by   julianp
    As an atheist I would tell you that any spiritual or religious references I would view as you making yourself feel better. I would simply ask that I know you are doing your job. I already know my atoms are going to be once again spread back to the universe. And just make sure I'm not in pain if you can.
  12. by   alpha omega
    If the patient seems very anxious, my standard line is something like: Would you like to talk to somebody about this, like a clergyman or a counsellor?

    It gives them choices and doesn't impose any one view. I privately pray for all my patients.
  13. by   Merlyn
    Quote from alpha omega
    If the patient seems very anxious, my standard line is something like: Would you like to talk to somebody about this, like a clergyman or a counsellor?

    It gives them choices and doesn't impose any one view. I privately pray for all my patients.
    This tread could just as be entitled "Much to do about nothing". We, Atheist are not a separated species. We are,as the word implies without a belief in a god or gods. Some of us believe there is an afterlife, since one of the scientific principals, 'Matter can not be created or distorted. That does not mean that we believe in heaven. The spirit of life may go to The Trenton, NJ Train Station or go back into the cosmic from which it came. Some atheist believe that this life is it. The point is we just need some one to hold our hand while we wait to see what is coming next.

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