Liminality as a dimension of the experience of living with terminal cancer

Carla Willig, Luisa Wirth
2018 Palliative & Supportive Care  
Objective This paper is concerned with the phenomenology of death awareness within the context of being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The objective of the research presented here is to provide a deeper insight into terminally ill cancer patients' engagement with their mortality. Method The analysis forms part of a wider project that involved conducting a metasynthesis of 23 phenomenological studies of the experience of living with the awareness of having terminal cancer published between 2011
more » ... and 2016. Result The metasynthesis identified four master themes that represent distinct experiential dimensions of living with terminal cancer. This paper focuses on one of these themes, liminality, to provide novel insights into the structure of death awareness whilst living with terminal cancer. Significance of results The results suggest that liminality describes an experiential space from within which terminal cancer patients encounter a new relationship with their existence. Liminality offers opportunities for both connection (e.g., with the natural world) as well as disconnection (e.g., from loved ones and others who still have a future) and therefore contains the potential for suffering and distress as well as for joy and a sense of fulfillment. This understanding of liminality can help healthcare professionals provide psychological support for this client group.
doi:10.1017/s1478951518000536 pmid:30187842 fatcat:u43u74wftjgfnkaedtsiogxfha