We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Meaning in Suffering

Caring Practices in the Health Professions

Edited by Nancy Johnston and Alwilda Scholler-Jaquish

Publication Year: 2007

     Compelling, timely, and essential reading for healthcare providers, Meaning in Suffering addresses the multiplicity of meanings suffering brings to all it touches: patients, families, health workers, and human science professionals. Examining suffering in writing that is both methodologically rigorous and accessible, the contributors preserve first-hand experiences using narrative ethnography, existential hermeneutics, hermeneutic phenomenology, and traditional ethnography. They offer nuanced insights into suffering as a human condition experienced by persons deserving of dignity, empathy, and understanding. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that understanding the suffering of the "other" reveals something vital about the moral courage required to heal—and stay humane—in the face of suffering.
Winner, Nursing Research Category, American Journal of Nursing


Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.6 KB)
pp. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (19.5 KB)
pp. ix

No volume comes to fruition without the contributions of many people. Although we cannot name all of the generous people who offered their time, wisdom, and talent, we would like to particularly acknowledge the following people: Nancy Diekelemann and Pamela Ironside for their wise guidance and encouragement. Kathryn H. Kavanagh for her contribution to this volume, astute...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (49.3 KB)
pp. 3-6

When we suffer personally, and when we encounter the suffering of another person, we are confronted with many questions. A taken-for-granted and apparently robust future now jeopardized leaves in its place a hollow of uncertainty and fragility. Painfully unsettling, suffering seems to call forth a natural human proclivity to distance oneself from the specter...

read more

1: Meaning in Suffering: A Patchwork Remembering

pdf iconDownload PDF (227.4 KB)
pp. 7-59

Dr. Rain appeared, the bulging pockets on her white jacket straining its center button. She absentmindedly squelched buzzing apparatuses while looking around the room at the four of us and ascertaining our relationships with her patient. She then addressed herself to Joanne: “Well, the chances are about 10% of surviving a year without treatment.” She...

read more

2: The Gift of Suffering

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.9 KB)
pp. 60-97

In this paper I aim to focus attention on suffering in a way that seeks to be useful to the healthcare professional. I argue that suffering is a gift to both sufferer and healer and that the way the gift becomes present to them is through their interaction in what well-known phenomenologist Calvin Schrag calls a “fitting response” to the call of the other in the visage of the neighbor...

read more

3: Finding Meaning in Adversity

pdf iconDownload PDF (166.5 KB)
pp. 98-143

Finding meaning and joy in one’s circumstances, rather than being overtaken, diminished, and embittered by life’s inevitable adversities, constitutes a universal human challenge. Yet knowledge about this subject is fragmentary and sparse. Although empirically based models have been proposed that address the basic human needs that are disrupted by adversity and...

read more

4: Narrative Phenomenology: Exploring Stories of Grief and Dying

pdf iconDownload PDF (154.1 KB)
pp. 144-185

As a way of putting the death of a loved family member or friend into perspective, people tell stories. They discuss who the deceased person was in life, how the person died, and what their own life has been like since the death. During the conduct of a needs assessment study that inquired about the resources people needed to assist them with grieving...

read more

5: Wish Fulfillment for Children with Life-Threatening Illnesses

pdf iconDownload PDF (213.5 KB)
pp. 186-231

Children with life-threatening illnesses are subjected to numerous treatments and procedures. They often experience enormous physical and emotional pain and suffering as attempts are made to prolong their life. Desperately dependent on the medical system for their survival, these children and their families often experience hopelessness and helplessness due...

read more

6: Moral Meanings of Caring for the Dying

pdf iconDownload PDF (156.4 KB)
pp. 232-275

What is it like for nurses to care for dying individuals who are suffering? I have experienced and reflected upon this experience in countless ways. As an educator I found that this particular journey heightened as I pursued and completed doctoral studies. I began this inquiry at the side of nine palliative care nurses who willingly, openly, and quite profoundly...


pdf iconDownload PDF (39.6 KB)
pp. 277-278


pdf iconDownload PDF (82.1 KB)
pp. 279-293

E-ISBN-13: 9780299222536
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299222543

Publication Year: 2007