Hope and serious illness

Submitted on Wednesday September 11th, 2013
kate b reynolds hospice home

In the context of serious illness, one's greatest fear is that the condition will be fatal. Feelings of hopelessness are common-and a life without hope is grim indeed. The challenge of terminal illness is to learn to live with dying, to find purpose and meaning even in the face of a limited future. Without purpose, you risk the death of emotions while you are still alive. Even if a condition is incurable, it is possible to have hope. It's simply that your definition of hope must change.

With terminal illness, a person's focus shifts from long-term goals to the here and now. You may have noticed how the characteristics of hope have been changing. Before the diagnosis, you might have hoped you had a simple problem that might even go away. After the diagnosis you might have hoped for a cure. As time progresses, and if a cure appears unlikely, the nature of your hopes will continue to change. You might instead hope to survive to see a grandchild born, attend a wedding, or be visited by a sibling. You may look forward to a favorite food or hope for a day with energy or a day without pain.

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