The Importance of Hope

Hope is one of the essential ingredients of human existence, without which life is dark and cold and frustrating. It maintains strength and gives substance to courage. In the presence of hope, suffering of all sorts still has some positive qualities. In its absence, suffering is a completely negative experience (Tumulty, 1973, p. 171).

Hope allows patients to face the shortness of their lives constructively. Twycross (1986) defined hope as having "an expectation greater than zero of achieving a desired goal." Hope can also be defined as the patient believing in what is still possible. Anything that contributes to a sense of meaning or purpose in life fosters hope. Thus, belief in God or a higher being provides hope and may give a sense of meaning to suffering for some patients.

The physician should not raise false hopes or be overaggressive in treating a terminal illness to help the patient maintain hope. Some patients find it best to plan for a little time and hope for more. A false sense of hope may deflect the patient and family from finding final meaning and value in their remaining lives together.

Even advanced cancer patients can maintain a positive outlook on life. The physician can help direct a patient toward an achievable goal, such as pain relief, support for the family from a hospice service, or making a trip to visit relatives.

Even laughter can contribute to hope. One patient said, "I may not have much control over the nearness of death, but I do have the power to joke about it." Also, recalling uplifting moments such as vacations or looking at old photograph albums can support hope. Memories of the past can serve to enrich the present (Herth, 1990).

Having one's individuality accepted, honored, and acknowledged fosters hope, whereas devaluation of person-hood and a feeling of abandonment and isolation interfere with hope. Hope is also hindered by uncontrollable pain and discomfort. The continuation of pain after attempts to control it have failed contributes to the loss of hope (Herth, 1990).

Even when death is near, the patient can hope for a measure of happiness during the amount of time he or she has remaining. The physician can support the patient's hope for a good quality of life in the remaining time, for spiritual healing, and for a final phase of life that has integrity and dignity.

Hope is a potent force for patients to deal with their illness and to have a confiding relationship with a physician, spouse, or close friend, which can also help prevent depression. Every physician-patient encounter should leave the dying patient emotionally more able to deal with end-of-life issues. Always promote the patient's sense of hope (NgoMetzger et al., 2008).

Become A More Spiritual Person Today

Become A More Spiritual Person Today

Before the Lord God created man on the earth He firstly prepared for him by making a creation of valuable and pleasant things for his nourishment and joy. In Genesis the account of the creation of these are named plainly

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