To understand how spiritual care can be of tremendous help in the healthcare (and non-healthcare) world in the times of COVID-19, you first have to understand what spiritual care is. Let me say first and foremost: spiritual care is not identical to religion. The term spirituality first occurs in ancient medical writings as spiritus (Latin)/spiritos (Greek) and translates as “breath” or breathing. Literally what you do when you inhale and exhale. Spirituality is in the metaphorical sense, that in your life which helps you breathe, that which helps you get through your toughest days, your worst fears, your biggest challenges, any situation or circumstance that takes your breath away.
Hence spirituality is very individual and it is a process rather than a fixed concept. For many people, religion or personal faith in a god is a big part of that. Being able to connect to something or “someone” transcendent, aka bigger than anything there is, can be greatly helpful to find a sense of clam, meaning and peacefulness – this connection helps people cope. Prayer, religious rituals are a rich spiritual source or coping and meaning-making in the most existential way for many people.
But spirituality can also be transpersonal, something simply bigger than me when I feel small, something that helps me hold on. That can be meditation, quiet walks, knowing that there is a higher power somewhere in the universe (not necessarily a god), connection to other people that is stronger and more reassuring than can be put in words.
For most people spirituality has many elements, and that is good – each challenge requires us that make sense of it and cope with it in unique ways, having many spiritual elements in one’s repertoire will make us more resilient – especially in times of the unknown, the fear and the insecurity that this global pandemic is bringing with it.
Hanging in the open air, not knowing why things are happening and what is coming, is exactly the context in which spiritual care helps find connection and meaning, with oneself, with the world and with whatever transcendent and transpersonal power there might be for an individual.
Spiritual Care can help us get through these tough times of COVID-19 by helping us see how we can take one more breath, take one more step and find the resilience and the courage to face and overcome what hurts us and scares us.
In the US and Europe, it is primarily chaplains who provide spiritual care in healthcare settings (but also in workplace settings and prisons), i.e. in areas where people tend to feel vulnerable and afraid and where unwelcome existential change happens daily.
In the following posts, I will share different spiritual pieces, stories, prayers, quotations, experiences that have been helpful to people during this pandemic. Feel free to add whatever is meaningful to you or ask questions.
We are in this together!