Spiritual care – frequently asked questions


  • The hospice must be a miserable place to work?
  • There is more laughter here than anywhere else I have ever worked. One saying I like is, ‘We may not be able to add days on to a life, but we can put life into those days.’ People seem to be frightened of hospices. There is no need. If you would like to find out what St Richard’s Hospice is really like – the sense of peace, the feeling of safety, the frequent humour – please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to show you around, either as an individual, or as part of the group you belong to.

  • What happens when we die?
  • Views on this vary. Most English people believe in some form of the survival of the human personality after death. Many English people believe that this life is all there is and that death is our natural and final ending. In the hospice chaplaincy team, we honour all beliefs about this. We want to know what you believe and we will try to provide you with an environment in which you can continue to explore and live out those beliefs.

  • What is the difference between ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’?
  • To be spiritual is part of the raw stuff of being human. It is that element in being human that asks questions about the meaning and purpose of being alive. This is common to all human beings whether or not they are religious. Many people express their spirituality through a religion; many don’t. We know from experience that spiritual care is a crucial part of hospice care. The hospice chaplaincy is charged first and foremost with providing ‘spiritual care’ and, only when appropriate, ‘religious care’.

  • What about ‘Last Words’?
  • Sooner or later, we all die. When that happens, a gathering of some kind needs to take place where memories can be shared and words and music, special to the one who has died, can be heard. This can take just about any form you choose. The chaplaincy can advise you how to create and organise this. We do not represent any one particular faith or philosophy, so we can help you to organise a ceremony that feels real and truthful. With your funeral director, we can advise you on who can be asked to lead the ceremony you have in mind, or we can lead it for you. If we lead it for you, all the fees come back to the hospice. We have helped many hospice families create a ceremony. On many occasions we have helped people to plan things before they die. This is always a time of important conversations within a family – it helps many things to be said that might not otherwise be said – and it always gives people peace of mind.