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Searching for circles of meaning and using spiritual experiences to help parents of infants with life-threatening illness cope

Publication year
Raingruber, B.; Milstein, J.
39-49; discussion 50-1

One of the major challenges parents can face is learning that their child has a life-threatening illness. A phenomenological study was completed to identify which interactions with health care providers were and were not helpful. Parents discussed what it was like to have an infant with a life-threatening illness and what helped them to cope. Parents indicated that they benefited from identifying "circles of meaning," or ways in which their infant touched another life. Parents appreciated hearing from health care providers that they felt close to their infant. This sense of connection allowed parents to reconstruct a semblance of meaning in the midst of a life-altering event. Parents were also influenced by intuitive and spiritual experiences associated with their infant’s illness. Parents should be encouraged to reflect on spiritual moments and to identify how their critically ill infant influenced the lives of other family members, friends, and health care professionals.

Research abstracts