Reiki and Terminal Illness

I am a hospice volunteer with Hospice of Western Reserve of Cleveland, Ohio, since July 2005. I use Reiki with the patients of the hospice and also provide treatment for the staff. Many studies are done about the effectiveness of Reiki in palliative care. One of them "indicate that Reiki therapy did decrease pain, anxiety, heart and respiratory rates, … Reiki may be beneficial to support traditional methods to manage pain and anxiety in children receiving palliative care." (1)

Working with hospice patients sometimes could be challenging for new practitioners. The clients will not be on a treatment table. They could be in the hospital bed with limited access or in a wheelchair. We need to be creative and trust our Reiki intuition. We often cannot use all the "classical hand positions," and it's ok; trust Universal Wisdom and Reiki. Your intuition will develop with experience.

Often hospice patients experience Reiki energy differently from other clients; they are more connected with Reiki on the spiritual level. They could have visions or sensations that provide you with remarkable information for your next session and bring the receiver inner peace. Every time my client and I witness a small miracle, their pain is reduced, or they can sleep better or breathe easier. No money could buy what I see in their eyes after the session.

More than on one occasion, I was called to be with the patient during their transition. It is a privilege to be with one when family members are not available and provide Reiki treatment during these hours. Even when they are not responsive, I feel a spiritual connection. I feel like this energy of peace and love passing through me brings relief to my patient and enriches me too. To be present in these last moments are a blessing and a privilege. Reiki founder Mikao Usui wrote, "The human is mortal regardless of age. That is the natural providence and it inevitable. But when you know he or she is ending life, do the best and treat the person even more kindly and earnestly until the lest moment. It is certain that the person will have a peaceful moment to pass away." (2)

I was recently asked about Reiki and the average number of treatments. I decided to share the story of one of my clients. This story is not a miracle; it is one of many such stories. To protect my client's privacy, I shall call her Ann.

When I first met Ann, she was enrolled in Hospice and rapidly declining. Ann lost all her feeling in her lower extremities, one arm, and vision in one eye. On her best days, her pain level was around 7-8 on a scale to 10. Ann was very skeptical in the beginning but was ready to try anything to reduce her pain. She started feeling some improvement during our fourth session. Within the first nine months, Ann was able to reduce her pain medicine by about 10%. In three years, her need for pain medication was reduced by 25%. Even though she still had no feeling in her legs, she was able to lift her legs by 12 degrees, had improved sensation and range of motions in the affected arm.

In the third year, we reached a plateau. There was no decline, but neither was there an improvement. At this point, she decided to discontinue our sessions. I received a call from Ann again about six months later, asking to resume our sessions as her health began declining again.

February of 2020 will make nine years from my first session with Ann. She is still terminally ill, but her situation is manageable. Reiki will not heal her at this point but make her life more comfortable. Ann realized that she still needs adjustment and balancing her body's energy flow in the body to maintain the improvement.

  1. Am J Hosp Palliat Care 2017 May 7;34(4):373-379. Epub 2016 Feb 7

  2. Hiroshi Doi "A Modern Reiki Method for Healing" 2014 Pg. 104

If some of you would like to read more on clinical studies about the benefits of biofield therapies, you can start with

Please feel free to share your experiences, comments, or questions.

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