Spiritual Care

  • S. Judith LongEmail author


A diagnosis of serious neurologic illness challenges spiritual well-being. Loss of identity, uncertainty of prognosis, or fear of dementia, can result in feelings of meaninglessness, isolation, or helplessness. Difficult emotions are also common, such as grief, guilt, fear, and anger.

By recognizing these challenges, clinicians can better discern how to offer basic spiritual support and when to request help from a chaplain, who is the spiritual care specialist on the team. The chaplain helps patients, families, and clinicians discover and use their spiritual resources in the service of their healing and strengthen their spiritual resilience. The chaplain also helps the team understand the patient’s and family’s spiritual and cultural perspectives which affect their treatment decisions. This chapter discusses common challenges to spiritual well-being for patients and families affected by neurologic illness, and suggests ways to initiate spiritual support and help build resilience. The chapter ends with take away messages, triggers for requesting a palliative care specialist or chaplain, and tips for working with difficult situations.


Spiritual well-being Resilience Caregiver Difficult emotions Grief Loss Meaninglessness Isolation Helplessness 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Spiritual Care Services University of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurology and the Division of Palliative MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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