Weaving a fabric of moral meaning: how nurses live with suffering and death



Nursing has a long and rich history of caring for those who are sick and suffering, as well as for those who are dying. The threat of death, and/or the reality of suffering till death, for patients, is a reality in the lives of nurses. The purpose of this study was to examine how nurses live with patients who are suffering and dying. Founded on notions of relationship and embodiment, naturalistic inquiry was used to generate and analyse qualitative data from nine nurses who, at the time of the study, were working with patients whom they described as suffering or dying. Findings reflected how the nurses used the dilemmas of their patients’ lives to inform their own personal and professional lives through a process of ‘weaving a fabric of moral meaning’. Findings are discussed in terms of practice, research and education.