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Meaning in Illness 

Meaning in Illness
Chapter:
Meaning in Illness
Author(s):

Tami Borneman

, and Katherine Brown-Saltzman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190862374.003.0036
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date: 18 October 2019

This chapter explores both the challenges and opportunities presented to patients at the end of life as they search to create meaning of their illness. The dying experience may mean suffering beyond physical symptoms, and nurses often find it difficult to address the anticipatory grief, existential despair, and the depression that arises as one faces death. Identifying these concerns and introducing concepts of how the search for meaning may impart the possibilities of hope, resolution, growth, spiritual discovery, reframing, and coming to peace about the essence of one’s life are addressed. Finally, this chapter describes how care of the dying that integrates these elements becomes a gift for the healthcare professional, offering the possibility to develop resiliency and strength for the future.

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