African American Elders’ Serious Illness Experiences: Narratives of “God Did,” “God Will,” and “Life Is Better”

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Abstract

The foundation of culturally sensitive patient-centered palliative care is formed from one’s social, spiritual, psychological, and physical experiences of serious illness. The purpose of this study was to describe categories and patterns of psychological, social, and spiritual healing from the perspectives of aging seriously ill African American (AA) elders. Using narrative analysis methodology, 13 open-ended interviews were collected. Three main patterns were “prior experiences,” “I changed,” and “across past, present experiences and future expectations.” Themes were categorized within each pattern: been through it . . . made me strong, I thought about . . . others, went down little hills . . . got me down, I grew stronger, changed priorities, do things I never would have done, quit doing, God did and will take care of me, close-knit relationships, and life is better. “Faith” in God helped the aging seriously ill AA elders “overcome things,” whether their current illness or other life difficulties.

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