A phenomenological study describing the embodied experience of time when living with severe incurable disease
This article presents findings from a phenomenological study exploring experience of time by patients living close to death. The empirical data consist of 26 open-ended interviews from 23 patients living with severe incurable disease receiving palliative care in Norway. Three aspects of experience of time were revealed as prominent: (i) Entering a world with no future; living close to death alters perception of and relationship to time. (ii) Listening to the rhythm of my body, not looking at the clock; embodied with severe illness, it is the body not the clock that structures and controls the activities of the day. (iii). Receiving time, taking time; being offered – not asked for – help is like receiving time that confirms humanity, in contrast to having to ask for help which is like taking others time and thereby revealing own helplessness. Experience of time close to death is discussed as an embodied experience of inner, contextual, relational dimensions in harmony and disharmony with the rhythm of nature, environment and others. Rhythms in harmony provide relief, while rhythms in disharmony confer weakness and limit time.