- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Understanding grief
- How you might feel
- Spiritual beliefs and faith
Spiritual beliefs and faith
Your spiritual beliefs may be challenged as you question the meaning of the loss and what happens to us after we die. Some people find comfort and strength in their spiritual beliefs and in connecting with other members of their faith. Other people feel abandoned or betrayed at a time of great need. If your faith has been important to you, this can be one of the most unsettling aspects of grief.
You may find that your search for answers leads to spiritual growth. Whatever your beliefs, it can be helpful to explore questions about life and death with someone you trust, such as a spiritual care practitioner, family member, friend or counsellor.
Tips for exploring the spiritual impact
- Find ways to connect with what spirituality means to you (e.g. praying; visiting a place of worship; going for a walk in nature; meditating; listening to music). This connection may give you a different perspective on life and a larger way of seeing your situation.
- Talk about your feelings with a spiritual care practitioner (pastoral carer, chaplain or religious leader). There will usually be one on the palliative care team. You can also ask the hospital social worker if there is someone you can talk to. Accept that having doubts or concerns may be part of a process leading to a stronger sense of your own spirituality.
- If it feels right to you, follow the mourning customs of your religion or culture. Some people like the structure these customs provide for their grief.
- Create your own rituals (e.g. visiting a place where you feel close to the person who died; lighting a candle; creating a playlist).
Podcast: Coping with Grief
A/Prof Lisa Beatty, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology and Consulting Clinical Psychologist, Flinders University Institute of Mental Health and Wellbeing, SA; Sandra Anderson, Consumer; Dr Alexandra Clinch, Palliative Medicine Specialist and Deputy Director, Palliative Care, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC; Christopher Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Grief Australia; Nathan MacArthur, Specialist Grief Counsellor and Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Sydney Grief Counselling Services, NSW; Linda Magann, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Palliative Care, St George Hospital, NSW; Palliative Care Australia; Richard Upton, Consumer; Lesley Woods, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Emotions and cancer
People who are affected by cancer in some way can experience a range of emotions, that can be very challenging to deal with at times. Learn more.
End of life
This information may help you better cope with end of life, or support someone who may be dying with cancer