Spiritual support should be offered to all patients and their families regardless of their affiliated status with an organized religion.
To understand nonreligious theistic parents’ spirituality and to explore how parents discuss death with their terminally ill children in mainland China.
Qualitative study.
This study was conducted in the hematology oncology center at Beijing Children’s Hospital. Participants in this study included 16 bereaved parents.
Participants described themselves as nonreligious but showed a tendency toward a particular religion. Parents sought religious support in the face of the life-threatening conditions that affected their child and regarded the religious belief as an important way to get psychological and spiritual comfort after experiencing the death of their child. Religious support could partially address parents’ spiritual needs. Parents’ spiritual needs still require other supports such as bereavement services, death education, and family support groups. Some parents stated that it was difficult to find a way to discuss death with their children. For patients who come from nonreligious theistic families, their understanding of death was more complex and may be related to atheism.
Religious support could be an element of spiritual support for nonreligious theistic parents of terminally ill children. Multiple strategies including religious supports and nonreligious supports should be rationally integrated into spiritual support of nonreligious theistic family. Patient’s personal belief in death should be assessed before discussing death with them.