Reflections on serious illness as spiritual journey by survivors of haematological malignancies

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Abstract

Although still in its infancy, research on spirituality is attracting increasing attention in health care. There are ongoing calls within the literature for research directed specifically toward clarifying what people mean by the word ‘spiritual’ and how they express this dimension in their lives. The findings presented in this article respond to that call by presenting findings from a recent qualitative study on meaning-making in relation to serious illness conducted with survivors of haematological malignancies. The findings indicate that the language of a secular spiritual journey, rather than a conventional religious or theological conceptual framework, was used for meaning-making by the survivors interviewed. Such results affirm the recent definitional move away from conflating religion with spirituality, while pointing to the richness, complexity, and contradiction that individuals bring to their meaning-making. The findings provide important insights on the interpretation of spirituality for a group of individuals surviving the confrontation with death caused by a life-threatening illness.

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