The purpose of this study was to describe the experience of persevering through a difficult time for patients, family members of patients, nurses, and allied health professionals during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak. van Kaam's phenomenological research method, with the human becoming theory as the theoretical perspective, was used to gather and analyse data from 63 participants who agreed to describe a situation that illuminated their experience of persevering through a difficult time (either online or using a voicemail system). Data gathering occurred in early April 2003 in the midst of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in Toronto, Canada. The finding was the structural definition, persevering through a difficult time is dispiriting trepidation arising with witnessing suffering. It is a smothering connectedness with sequestering protection as unsettling contentment emerges amid unburdening hope. It sheds light on what is important for preparing for possible future outbreaks of this and other infectious diseases.