Hope in tragedy. When action gives meaning to a life

By Marcelle Monette, Jacques Quintin

The experience of illness causes disorientation, a loss of meaning, and a loss of freedom to act. In other words, the entire field of practical possibilities diminishes, resulting in action being viewed as something impossible. In this case, the question is the following: Can the nurse contribute to maintaining hope for a life that is rich in meaning, adjusted to the limits imposed by the patient’s illness? To explore the answer to this question, we propose a humanistic model of accompaniment that enables nurses to restore hope and power to persons in vulnerable situations. In examining the best-case and the worst-case scenarios that a vulnerable person could be faced with, the accompaniment method proposed places emphasis on the exploration of practical interventions that could foster the best-case scenario and reduce the risk and the consequences of the worst-case scenario. By working on certain pragmatic aspects, we find that life becomes meaningful according to the use we can make of it, taking into account what we can actually do.


  • humanism
  • clinical ethics
  • phenomenology
  • hope
  • health
  • nursing
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