Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing
February 2013, Volume 15 Number 1 , p 52 - 59
Closed religious groups are a part of our society, but oftentimes there is a limited understanding of their unique beliefs and practices in relation to death and dying. Based on an existing clinical relationship with one such group—the Low-German-speaking Mennonites—a research program has been developed and implemented to address issues noted by health professionals and social service providers who wish to more effectively care for this population but lack an understanding of their beliefs and practices. This article reports on a study on death and dying that was conducted to attend to this knowledge gap and inform clinicians about ways to provide appropriate care for the dying. The qualitative interviews that were conducted with this unique religious group revealed their experiences of death and dying and their practices to honor this transition. Participants believed that suffering is related to the person’s relationship with God, and a slow death will provide time to atone for one’s sins. Providing care that is more closely aligned with these perspectives can be accomplished if providers are willing to approach this group in a respectful manner that allows for open discussion so that decisions based on faith are made.