Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies

Program Name/Specialization

Spiritual Care and Counselling


Martin Luther University College

First Advisor

Dr. Kristine Lund

Advisor Role



Dying persons and their caregivers encounter several needs as part of the dying journey. Spiritual care, when offered effectively, can help address many of those needs. When people’s needs are fulfilled, their suffering is lessened and there is an increased possibility of them experiencing a good death. However, when spiritual care is not offered effectively, dying persons and their caregivers often continue to face unalleviated suffering which limits their ability to experience a good death. This research project explores how dying persons and their caregivers experience spiritual care in their homes as an aid to dying well and having a good death in Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario, Canada. The research further examines if the rural nature of this geographical region affects the participants’ experience of spiritual care as part of their dying journey.

A phenomenological research study was conducted using semi-structured interviews with ten dying persons and nine caregivers residing in Grey and Bruce Counties. The study participants provide detailed descriptions of their understandings of spiritual care and who is able to offer it. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was employed to code the research data and discover emergent themes. Results of the study indicate how spiritual care can help dying persons and their caregivers experience connection and support to people and traditions they consider necessary to die well. The effective delivery of end-of-life spiritual care also provides personal inner resources including hope, comfort, self-worth, strength to cope, and peace of mind. Participants consider these to be factors that contribute to a good death. Dying persons and their caregivers also expressed how residing in the rural region of Grey and Bruce Counties contributed positively to their experience of a good death.

Based upon the research findings the researcher presents recommendations for best practices in end-of-life spiritual care. These practices would support the important role spiritual care has in helping dying persons and their caregivers address needs, relieve suffering, improve quality of life and enable the experience of a good death.

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Convocation Season