The experience of illness raises profound issues concerning the sense or non-sense of human existence as a whole: does life have meaning when it is marked by suffering? And what meaning would it bear, in this case? These questions are asked by both caregivers and recipients of care when they come into contact with limits, pain, and death. In this regard, the existential condition of homo patiens is ambiguous: it can lead either to nihilism and despair or to a higher level of awareness and responsibility. Studies on resilience, post-traumatic growth, and meaning-making processes seem to suggest that in difficult situations the search for meaning comes most clearly to the fore, so that the possibility of finding meaning in life can be a protective factor and a key therapeutic resource, while meaninglessness increases weakness and vulnerability. But what is meant by “meaning” in the illness experience and how may it be integrated into one’s personal life story? This question is answered here in terms of narrative methods that can enhance healthcare practitioners’ capacity to approach their patients with sensitivity and deep understanding and guide them to find meaning in their lives, despite all.
- Health care