Researchers in London monitored 135 relatives and close friends of patients admitted to a Marie Curie centre with terminal illness to examine whether the presence and strength of spiritual beliefs determined how bereaved people recover from their grief.
People reporting no spiritual belief had not resolved their grief after 14 months. People with strong spiritual beliefs resolved their grief progressively over the same period. People with low levels of belief showed little change in the first nine months but thereafter resolved their grief.
Most palliative care units try to involve family members and friends who are important and close to the person dying. Attention to spiritual matters may be an important component to this work, say the authors.
Despite some limitations, this finding might help in identifying people who are having difficulty in readjusting to life after their loss, they conclude.