Hovering between suffering and enduring: the meaning of living with serious chronic illness

Qual Health Res. 2003 Apr;13(4):528-42. doi: 10.1177/1049732302250720.


Illness is part of life and hence always has a place in a life history. All that went on before the time of the illness, how life was in the past and what hopes and dreams were interrupted and changed, all influence the experiences of illness. The authors interviewed 5 women and 5 men with different kinds of serious chronic illnesses and used phenomenological hermeneutic method to interpret the transcribed interviews. They present the findings in three major themes: experiencing the body as a hindrance, being alone in illness, and struggling for normalcy. Participants seemed to hover between an escape from the emotional suffering pain of illness and the emotionless state of enduring. The comprehensive understanding illuminated that living with a serious chronic illness means living a life that is hovering between enduring and suffering but also including the process of reformulation of the self.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Sweden