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How Your Spiritual Belief Can Help You Cope With Cancer

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If your loved one has just been diagnosed with cancer, you may feel like your world is crashing down around your feet and you might be wondering how to support them through it without falling apart yourself.

Researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center found that people who have a religious or spiritual belief cope better with the impact of cancer than those who have no faith.

Psychiatrists studied 156 spouses of lung cancer sufferers and looked at their levels of self-efficiency and the amount of social support they had from the community.

They found that those people who used spiritual faith and prayer moderately to assist them, had less depression than those people who only used religious coping sparingly or not at all and those who relied on faith very heavily.

A very heavy reliance on spiritual faith may be counter-productive because it could mean that social support is lacking or that the person has limited coping mechanisms, making it harder to deal with.

In moderation, using religious belief and prayer is very beneficial. It is important that spouses, relatives and carers of the cancer sufferer are helped as much as the sufferer himself because untreated depression can cause significant health problems and even death and is not merely a psychological problem.

Religious Coping Ideas:

• If you go to church, you could ask for some counseling from your pastor.
• Many churches have prayer circles, or you could ask a group of friends and family to pray with you and make your own prayer circle.
• You could light a beeswax candle to say a prayer for your loved one (don’t use a paraffin one as these can cause health problems).
• You could try writing a journal during your loved one’s illness. Writing down your feelings might help you release emotions.
• Don’t be afraid to ask members of your community for help. Church members or close friends might be willing to help with housework so you can spend more time helping your loved one.
• If you’re more spiritual than religious, you could try visualization therapy for both you and your loved one.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.