Tellable and untellable stories in suffering and palliative care

The relief of patients’ suffering – both physical and non-physical – is a primary aim of palliative care, and has been described as an obligation and ethical duty for palliative care providers. This paper suggests that common approaches to relieving patients’ non-physical suffering – such as creating opportunities to make meaning, achieve personal growth, and hone one’s resiliencies – comprise the larger, more tellable part of the palliative care discourse. A more marginal, less tellable part of the discourse acknowledges that some non- physical suffering cannot necessarily be relieved. Inspired by Foucauldian writings, this paper suggests that palliative care discourse may be disciplining the relief of non-physical suffering, with unintended ramifications for front-line practice. Making more space for both the tellable and untellable stories of patients’ non-physical suffering holds potential for an evolved palliative care discourse; one that un-disciplines dying. Read more>

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