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The lived experience of compassionate love at end of life

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Hughes, ME (2009) The lived experience of compassionate love at end of life. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis is an investigation of how people experience the death and final arrangements
of a significant other person who died at home from a life limiting illness. Inspired by
my own lived experience, and recognizing that subjectivity would influence this research,
I decided to employ the qualitative approach of heuristic enquiry to discover new
meanings from a time marked by irreplaceable loss and critical decision making.
Previous studies have shown that in contemporary western society, an expected death
predominantly occurs in a hospital, hospice or aged care facility. Consequently, an
expected death at home is unusual and outside common experience. Furthermore,
Australian social policy is committed to relocating death back into the community, not
just as a cost saving measure but also based on the ideology of a good death. I argue that
to make death at home a realistic option for more people, greater awareness of how
people experience the death and final arrangements is needed. I also claim that despite
death being an ubiquitous lifetime event, limited opportunities arise to discuss matters
relating to a dead person. Given that the traditional theories of grief and bereavement
have promoted 'letting go' and detaching from a relationship with the deceased, the
discourse surrounding what occurs in the site of the home when an expected death
prevails from a history of disease, remains largely sequestrated from people's
conversations. Consequently, the aims of this research have been to discover a rich
understanding of the experience at home from those with lived experience for the purpose
of informing and extending the support by people at end of life.
The findings from this research were generated from the wisdom and insights of twenty
eight Tasmanian people. By applying the six stages of heuristic enquiry to discover new
meaning from human experience, three temporal dimensions emerged, casting light upon
a range of human experience. A deep and committed examination of this topic using self
refiexivity and thematic analysis, discovered that the spirit guiding people's decision
making at end of life is a set of experiences and responses that I have chosen to call
compassionate love.
In the final stage of this enquiry known as the creative synthesis, I propose a model
which demonstrates how five interdependent practices of compassionate love enable the
expression of human qualities of care. These practices facilitate a rich array of people's
strengths, resources and capacities providing benefits not only for the person receiving
the care but unveiling the potential for self growth and transformation in the journey at
end of life. These findings have relevance to social work intervention at end of life and
beyond because it is possible that these qualities of care may be obscured in the chaos
generated by grief and overlooked when attention is directed towards the negative
outcomes that so often represent the experience of bereavement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Death, Terminal care, Bereavement, Funeral rites and ceremonies, Grief
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the Author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:53
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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