It is always important to think about how you want information to be shared with your loved one, yourself, and other family (as you define “family”) and friends.  For example, do you want the doctor to talk about your loved one’s condition with both of you in the same room, or would you want the conversation to be held in another place?  Who do you want to be with you for those conversations, if anyone?  How are decisions made for and with your loved one and how are they shared with your medical team?  Are there food preferences or restrictions? Also, consider whether there are things that you may or may not want expressed in your loved one’s room:  is it okay for a nurse, for example, to say that she is praying for you, or would you prefer no religious talk be done in the room?


The room in which your loved one is being cared for has become their personal space.  How do you want it to be?  Do you prefer quiet and low lights, unless needed for a medical need, or is it important to have the curtains open and sunlight coming in?  Is having favorite music playing softly helpful or a favorite TV channel playing when you cannot be present with your loved one?  Who do you want to be able to visit?  Letting the health care team know your preferences and needs will lead to talking about what is possible within the medical care that your loved one needs while respecting your wishes for the room.

Rituals and Symbols

Although you do not have a formal religious community or affiliation, for many persons a sense of spirituality and meaning is expressed through favorite objects and symbols that are displayed in the room or worn by your loved one.  If there are things that are important to have with your loved one, it is important to communicate this to your health care team to know what objects can be allowed in a health care environment as well as how you want them to be respected.


The health care setting where your loved one is will usually have a chaplain on their staff that can help you in ensuring that your spiritual and cultural beliefs are honored and accommodated.  Professional chaplains are trained to care for all persons, and do not impose their beliefs on patients or families.   They can also help you in notifying loved ones and friends if you need assistance.