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The concept of spirituality and its role in end-of-life care
  1. Mike Kelly, Co-ordinator of Counselling Services
  1. Irish Kidney Association, Dublin, Ireland. Email: mike{at}


The examination of spirituality and its role in end-of-life care has generated a great deal of debate. Spirituality is a difficult concept to define as it is unique to each individual and is influenced by upbringing, culture and different life experience. Spirituality and religion are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, although they are not necessarily synonymous, there is an overlap. This article is intended to explore the concept of spirituality and the need for its inclusion within end-of-life care. The method of exploration will be reflective, drawing together three separate strands: one patient’s story as he approached death, the author’s own thoughts on the spiritual dimension in end-of-life care and the use of clinical vignettes to illustrate aspects of spirituality. The article also reflects some of the challenges that face those involved with the provision of care for patients as they approach the end of life. Conflicts of interest: none.

  • Challenge
  • End of life
  • Loss
  • Spirituality

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