It is important to talk with your health care team about how you want information to be shared with your loved one, yourself, and other family and friends as well as tribal leaders.  For example, do you want the doctor to talk about your loved one’s condition in their room, or would you want those conversations to be held in another place?  Who are the persons that need to be present from within your tradition for those conversations and decision-making?  Are there food preferences or restrictions?  Who is the decision-maker – husband or wife, children, parents, or someone else?


The room in which your loved one is being cared for is also an important thing to consider.  How do you want it to be?  Is it important in your tradition for it to be as peaceful and calm as possible within the medical care your loved one is being provided?  Should your loved one be facing a certain direction?  Is quiet important, or would your loved on prefer music and their loved ones around them?  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

Many times it can be important for families to have rituals from their religious or cultural tradition to be provided for their loved ones.  This is another thing to talk with your medical care team about.  If you would like to have a medicine man/woman or other leaders from your community come to provide a ritual, let the health team know so that arrangements can be made and respected.  If there are rituals that are taking place at home that are important, especially in terms of time (such as a several days), this is important for the health team to know as well.    Many persons also want certain symbols of healing or that represent their spiritual beliefs to be present with their loved one.  If you have objects that are important, but that should not be touched by anyone else, let the health team know so that it can be placed in a respectful place.  If there are symbols or objects that you would like your loved one to wear, be sure that your health team knows because it can usually be arranged for that to occur even while your loved one is receiving medical care.


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 cultural and religious beliefs are honored and accommodated.  Professional chaplains are trained to care for all persons, and do not impose their beliefs on patients or families.   Often your tribal center will have other resources to help you in providing ritual, communicating your needs, and offering resources for care.