Developing a Language for Nonreligious Spirituality in Relation to Serious Illness: Preliminary Findings
The preliminary findings presented in this article are part of a research program that is concerned with exploring the notion of spirituality for those dealing with serious illness. The aim of the program is not only to deepen our understanding of how individuals construct their spirituality in the face of life-threatening illness, but also to respond to such insights by beginning to develop a language reflective of the commonalities of experience. The development of such a language involves a three-phase process including the thematic development of qualitative data, comparative analysis of findings from disparate sample groups, and expert reflection of conceptual notions within the context of the richness of traditional philosophical/theological literature. This discussion focuses on the preliminary process of qualitative data development based on in-depth interviews with survivors of a hematological malignancy. The findings indicate that, for those who have a nonreligious framework, there is no shared language readily available to communicate their insights and experience with serious illness. However, the qualitative analysis also indicates that such survivors share a number of identifiable conceptual notions. These notions are articulated as a preliminary step in language development.
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