Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

“In pain waiting to die”: Everyday understandings of suffering

  • Karen D. Schwartz (a1) and Zana Marie Lutfiyya (a1)
Abstract
Objective:

The notion of “suffering” is understood in very different ways in a variety of contexts. In palliative care, the relief and prevention of suffering is considered to be a fundamental goal (Pastrana et al., 2008). However, the avoidance of suffering has also been used as an argument by those campaigning for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide (Finlay, 2009). In reflecting upon suffering in these two contexts, we were intrigued by Finlay's (2009) contention that to laypeople, the phrase “‘unbearable suffering’ conjures up images of patients on their deathbeds wracked with uncontrolled pain” (p. 1841).

Method:

This article explores how suffering is used and understood in an “everyday” discourse, by analyzing comments posted to a website debating assisted suicide in the context of the Canadian case of Sue Rodriguez.

Results:

Using a broad social approach to discourse analysis (Tonkiss, 2004), three themes emerged in our analysis: (1) when people suffer, (2) how people are understood to suffer, and (3) how suffering should be dealt with. We also examined what was not said in this discussion: there was little consideration of the more holistic goals of palliative care and how suffering might be understood and managed in ways other than within the frame of assisted suicide.

Significance of results:

Paying attention to the everyday discourse of suffering is important because, as members of society, we all play a role in negotiating the meaning of suffering. Such meaning has a significant impact upon patients and palliative care professionals alike.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Zana Marie Lutfiyya, Room 227A, Education Building, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada R3T 2N2. E-mail: zana@umanitoba.ca
References
Hide All
APhilibert (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Aries (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Marie, Ashley (2008, February 8). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
B1ackMesa (2008, February 6). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
bassprodigy (2008, February 11). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
bb521 (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
bklynblog (2008, February 11). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
boolah (2008, February 5). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Cadwallader, J. (2007). Suffering difference: Normalisation and power. Social Semiotics, 17, 375393.
cali2119 (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Carnevale, F.A. (2009). A conceptual and moral analysis of suffering. Nursing Ethics, 16, 173183.
Cassell, E.J. (1991). The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine. New York: Oxford University Press.
chiquita5 (2008, February 9). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Chochinov, H.M. (2002). Dignity-conserving care – A new model for palliative care. Journal of the American Medical Association, 287, 22532260.
Chochinov, H.M. (2006). Dying, dignity and new horizons in palliative end-of-life care. CA A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 56, 84103.
Potts, Chris (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Currow, D. & Hegarty, M. (2006). Suffering – At the bedside of the dying. Journal of Religion, Spirituality and Aging, 18, 123136.
DaisyDown23 (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Dave (2008, February 8). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
DivineArtistStevie (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
dwtc (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
EUrban (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Finlay, I. (2009). The art of medicine: Dying and choosing. Lancet, 373, 18401841.
Fox, H. (2008). If God is good, why does suffering exist? Journal for the Renewal of Religion & Theology, 3, 3.
Garcia, J.L.A. (2006). Sin and suffering in a Catholic understanding of medical ethics. Christian Bioethics, 12, 165186.
George, R. (2009). Suffering and healing – our core business. Palliative Medicine, 23, 385387.
Girl_in_the_Front (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
gjones17 (2008, February 9). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Goldberg, C. & Crespo, V. (2003). Suffering and personal agency. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 8, 8593.
heather (2008, February 8). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
J_Rambo (2008, February 6). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Jackedupballerina (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
JC_Lims (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Jenna (2008, February 5). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Jørgensen, M.W. & Phillips, M. (2002). Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method. London: Sage Publications.
JR8 (2008, February 11). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
KathleenB (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Kellehear, A. (2009). On dying and human suffering. Palliative Medicine, 23, 388397.
kortneywithak2 (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Lanlande (2008, February 9). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Lethborg, C., Aranda, S. & Kissane, D. (2008). Meaning in adjustment to cancer: A model of care. Palliative and Supportive Care, 6, 6170.
lil_princess86 (2008, February 8). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Lucretia (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
matthew (2008, February 8). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
McGill, A. (1982). Human suffering and the passion of Christ. In The Meaning of Human Suffering Doughert, F. (ed.), pp. 159193. New York: Human Sciences Press.
mdowd (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Megan (2008, February 5). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Gonzalez, M. (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
michelleL (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
missmeliss (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
mndz05 (2008, February 11). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Mony88 (2008, February 11). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Morgan, D. (2002). Pain: The unrelieved condition of modernity. European Journal of Social Theory, 5, 307322.
msjessi (2008, February 6). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Pamber (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Pastrana, T., Jünger, S., Ostgathe, C., et al. (2008). A matter of definition: Key elements identified in a discourse analysis of definitions of palliative care. Palliative Medicine, 22, 222232.
Monde, Petit (2008, February 9). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Pookie (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Rashera88 (2008, February 9). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Cramer, Reed (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), (1993) 3 S.C.R. 519.
RoxyChic0529 (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Schumm, D.Y. & Stoltzfus, M. (2007). Chronic illness and disability: Narratives of suffering and healing in Buddhism and Christianity. Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, 11, 521.
sk8rgrl (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
SocialButterfly (2008, February 11). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Strada, E.A. & Breitbart, W. (2009). Addressing the psychological and psychiatric domain of palliative care. Primary Psychiatry, 16, 2324.
sunflower. (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
sunshine (2008, February 12). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
superbright (2008, February 10). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
carpsweetklo020 (2008, February 7). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Johnson, Tara (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Terry, W. & Olson, L.G. (2004). Unobvious wounds: The suffering of hospice patients. Internal Medicine Journal, 34, 604607.
the fear (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
tlawrence (2008, February 9). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Tonkiss, F. (2004). Analyzing text and speech: Content and discourse analysis. In Seale, C. (ed.), Researching Society and Culture, pp. 367382. London: Sage Publications.
twin2 (2008, February 8). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Van Hooft, S. (1998). The meaning of suffering. The Hastings Center Report, 28, 1319.
wanttobefit (2008, February 4). Re: Do you support legislation that legalizes assisted suicide or do you oppose it? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://stayinginschool.blogspot.com/2008/02/fight-for-right-to-die.html
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Palliative & Supportive Care
  • ISSN: 1478-9515
  • EISSN: 1478-9523
  • URL: /core/journals/palliative-and-supportive-care
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed