ISSN: 1522-4821

Internationale Zeitschrift für psychische Notfallgesundheit und menschliche Resilienz

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The "Healing" Pillow: A Practical Spiritual Tool for Coping with Illness

Israela Meyerstein, LCSW-C, LCMFT

The illness journey is a difficult and complex voyage that creates a detour on a person’s life path. Illness impacts the patient’s total being: body, mind, and spirit. Moreover, ripple effects of illness draw in family members, caregivers, friends, and health and mental health care professionals as they try to help the patient. From the unsettling moments of receiving an initial diagnosis to the lengthy wandering through today’s high tech medical labyrinth, patients experience a host of vulnerable emotions, confusion, and isolation that can depress their spirits. It becomes a daily challenge to sustain one’s spirits and preserve identity in the midst of illness. Exploring how spirituality can be a resource in illness situations is a useful pursuit. Helping patients create a down-to-earth spiritual toolbox can strengthen their perceived coping and renew their spirits. Having a repertoire of practices that soothe, distract, and inspire can counter anxiety and pain, while actively using the tools stimulates patients in their own healing. While spiritual tools do not cure illness, they can sustain patients’ spirits to persist in coping efforts. The author introduces a “Healing” Pillow as one of many coping tools in a repertoire of resources for patients. The pillow has aesthetic images, inspirational words, and the special quality of touch to comfort the patient. Following a description of the concept and origin of the pillow, the author shares brief vignettes from her own experience to illustrate the impact of the pillow on patients and their families. In addition, sources for readings to accompany the pillow are suggested.