Enduring Through the Suffering of Life: Experiences of Families Caring for Dying Cancer Patients in Korea

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The purpose of this study was to understand the adaptation process of families caring for dying cancer patients. Interviews were conducted with 14 families of patients with terminal cancer admitted to a palliative care unit and 2 families who cared for the patient at home. Fifteen female members and 1 male member participated in the study, and their age varied from 29 to 74 years. Results revealed that all families devotedly cared for the patients, and they did not share their own experience of suffering until the death of the patient. A major theme in the interviews was “enduring through the suffering of life,” which was done through tension by anticipated loss, taking care without regret, having the strength to endure, and coping with death. The participants reported that they felt that life was futile, they had redefined the value of life, or they had changed the meaning of life through the process of adaptation to death. The findings of this study may be used as a basis to improve the quality of life of patients’ families during the patients’ dying process.

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