Discuss how prayer can be used positively in death education, in counseling, and in a hospice setting.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Death education, counseling, and the hospice setting all fit nicely with one another.  They are all concerned with an ultimate reality that everyone experiences, but whose experience probes the limits of human understanding. Prayer can be the unifying link between all of them.  In death education and counseling, prayer can help to provide understanding about the reality of mortality.  Prayer is able to give a peace of mind and a framework with which to understand death.  Different religious expressions offer their views about death and the divine.  Death education and counseling can offer prayer both in a specific denominational form or even in a universal condition for patients and loved ones to better understand death. There is no more an overwhelming topic than death.  Education about it does not reveal mastery of the topic.  Rather, it enables individuals to understand it, coming to terms with its reality and its inevitability.  In a topic where questions not only abound, but also undermine our own being, death education and counseling that focuses on prayer can help to generate a framework where the issue of death can be better understood.

The hospice setting is unique because its very being is constructed with death in mind.  Death education and counseling reflect the reality of death.  Yet, in a hospice setting, those who stay there and those who provide care accept death as a part of their being in the world.  In a hospice setting, prayer can be used in a variety of ways.  Studies reflect that a patient's "Quality of life was influenced by the individual's spiritual well-being."  In this, prayer can be essential as it aims to address the spiritual well- being of an individual.  Prayer is a direct route to the spiritual condition of an individual.  Another revelation that emerges is that patients in hospice care seek to "establish a relationship with God." Here again, prayer can be seen as important to developing a relationship with the divine at a point in life where such a connection represents even more significance. In both of these examples, patients in hospice care struggle with death education and prayer becomes an essential means to helping. Hospice care that explores alternative therapies can embrace prayer as a significant avenue for death education.  The form can be a specific denomination or in a universal sense to understand the issue of death, but prayer is positively used in the enhancement of death education.

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