A heart set on living

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quality of life is a highly subjective element on which to base health care decision making. This narrative reflection after the death of a family member uses poetry as a prompt to explore themes related to quality of life - including symptom burden, interpersonal relationships in the face of illness, and the will to live. Through penetrating inquiry and reflection, physicians and other care providers can gain insight into the underlying motivations, loyalties, and abilities that lend meaning to patients' lives and shape attitudes toward death and dying. By better recognizing and appreciating these factors, clinicians can develop patient-centered quality-of-life constructs that empower them to honor patient goals and preferences at the end of life. Physicians are encouraged to explore poetry and other artistic media to help foster the reflective capacity required to deeply understand and faithfully serve patients in this regard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-140
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


  • Quality of life
  • end-of-life care
  • narrative reflection
  • patient-centered decision making
  • poetry and medicine
  • will to live

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