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Constructing family identity close to death

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DOI: 10.4236/ojn.2013.35051    3,533 Downloads   5,495 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Daily life close to death involves physical, psychological, and social strain, exposing patients and their family members to major transitions affecting relational patterns and identity. For the individual family member, this often means sharing life with a changing person in a changing relationship, disrupting both individual identity and family identity. Our aim was to deepen the understanding of individual experiences that are important in constructing family identity close to death at home. We performed a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected through 40 interviews with persons with life-threatening illness and the family members who shared everyday life with them. The analysis resulted in interpretive descriptions which provided three patterns important for creating family identity, which we here call “we-ness” close to death. The patterns were: being an existential person, being an extension of the other, and being together in existential loneliness. Together, these three patterns seemed to play a part in the construction of family identity; we-ness, close to death. One important finding was the tension between the search for togetherness in “we-ness” while dealing with an existential loneliness, which seemed to capture an essential aspect of being a family of which one member is dying. 

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Carlander, I. , Ternestedt, B. , Sandberg, J. and Hellström, I. (2013) Constructing family identity close to death. Open Journal of Nursing, 3, 379-388. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2013.35051.

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