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Phowa: End-of-Life Ritual Prayers for Tibetan Buddhists

Smith-Stoner, Marilyn RN, PhD, CHPN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: November-December 2006 - Volume 8 - Issue 6 - p 357-363

Hospice and palliative care standards guide nurses to develop individualized plans of care for every patient and family. A religious assessment and integration of rituals and activities related to death preparation are important parts of the hospice plan of care. This article describes a specific death preparation ritual, phowa, practiced by Vajrayana Buddhists. Knowledge of specific death preparation prayers and rituals provides the hospice clinical staff with additional insight to help Buddhists transcend the death experience and realize the ultimate goal of being reborn in a Pure Land, free from the cycle of death and rebirth. Professional standards and guidelines for spiritual and religious assessment requirements are presented.

Marilyn Smith-Stoner, RN, PhD, CHPN, is Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, California State University San Bernardino, CA.

Address correspondence to Marilyn Smith-Stoner, RN, PhD, CHPN, Department of Nursing, California State University San Bernardino, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407 (e-mail:

The author declares no conflict of interest.

© 2006 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association