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Gain tools to help your patients, clients, parishioners, family or friends deal with grief.

Sponsored by Des Moines University and Hospice of Central Iowa.

The Dark Night of the Soul:  Assisting Clients Coping with Spiritual Distress at the End-of-Life

Saturday, July 30, 2011
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Des Moines University
Munroe #102
3200 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312


Betty Kramer Ph.D., MSSW and Robert Washington Ph.D., M.Div

Live Panelists

Dr. Norma Hirsch, Chief Medical Officer, HCI Care Services
Rev. Sara Schnucker Rice, Executive Director, Des Moines Area Religious Council
Dr. Jeffrey Means, Chair, Department of Behavioral Medicine, Des Moines University


Clinicians and clergy are offered tools and perspectives for clients struggling with spiritual difficulties at the end of life such as spiritual fears and anxieties, spiritual concerns and struggles, or other spiritual issues that arise as the person faces mortality.


At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  1. Conduct a spiritual assessment and be able to identify sources of spiritual distress in patients at the end-of-life or in their families.
  2. Describe sources of spiritual distress including spiritual fears and anxieties, spiritual concerns and struggles, or other spiritual issues that arise as the person faces mortality.
  3. Develop an intervention plan that addresses spiritual distress.
  4. Defend a trans-disciplinary approach to meeting spiritual distress.


  1. Spiritual Distress at the End-of-Life
    A.    Assessing Spiritual Distress
    B.     Assessing Families
  2. Sources of Spiritual Distress
    A.    Spiritual Fears and Anxieties
    1.      Fears about dying process
    2.      Fears about the afterlife and after-death
    3.      Fears about the loss of life
    4.      Fears of a particular death
    5.      Fears of the death of others
    6.      Other Anxieties
    B.     Spiritual Concerns
    1.      Treatment issues
    2.      Moral guilt
    3.      Spiritual Anger
    4.      Spiritual Isolation
    5.      Unresolved spiritual conflicts
    C.     Other Spiritual Issues – Legacies and Symbolic Immortality
    D.    Family Distress
  3. Interventive Strategies
    A.    Reframing and revisiting beliefs
    B.     Therapeutic rituals
    C.     Utilizing Spiritual Practices
    D.    Finding Support within the Faith Community
  4. Conclusion:  The Trans-Disciplinary Team

Continuing education credit

IBON: Des Moines University continuing education (provider #112) is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing as an accredited provider. This program has been reviewed and approved for a maximum of 2.4 continuing education contact hours.

Other: Certificates of participation will be awarded.


There is no fee to attend the webinars. If you have questions, please contact the continuing education office at 515-271-1541 or

For nurses requesting CEU credit, there is a $25 fee.

Register online

Des Moines University (DMU) prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. The University also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to University facilities. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend DMU sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the DMU Continuing Medical Education office at 515-271-1541 or prior to the program.