· Define and explain the significance of “redemptive suffering” in caring for the seriously ill patient and family.
· Describe theological bases for redemptive suffering from various traditions.
· Use a framework to better understand the operative construct of redemptive suffering.
· Identify the various types of redemptive suffering, using illustrative cases and strategize about how to manage these complex situations.
Patients’ spiritual beliefs influence how they deal with serious illness. Palliative care clinicians may encounter resistance to optimal symptom management based on the concept of “redemptive suffering,” or the belief that suffering can lessen the divine penalty for sin. This belief is based on an i...
Patients’ spiritual beliefs influence how they deal with serious illness. Palliative care clinicians may encounter resistance to optimal symptom management based on the concept of “redemptive suffering,” or the belief that suffering can lessen the divine penalty for sin. This belief is based on an interpretation of specific verses in Christian scripture (eg, “Take up your cross daily and follow me,” Luke 9:23) and has been attributed to both Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders, such as Pope John Paul II and Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life).
It can be extremely frustrating for palliative care practitioners to witness patient suffering when they have the tools to ameliorate it but are not permitted to use them. Being prevented from doing what they feel they (should) can cause a sense of helplessness and moral distress, as well as significant conflict between the team and the patient/family—and within the team itself.
Using real cases, this session will explore the challenges clinicians face and identify appropriate approaches to refusal of symptom management based on redemptive suffering. Distinctions will be drawn between refusals by the patient and by the family, as well as refusals stemming from a sense of obligation (a theological dilemma) and those stemming from a sense of enhanced connection with the divine (a spiritual dilemma). The role of a professional’s belief in redemptive suffering in assessment and treatment will also be explored, based on empirical studies. References will be made to famous examples of redemptive suffering in literature (eg, Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood) and cinema (eg, The Mission, directed by Roland Joffé).
The presenters—a pediatric palliative care clinician who is also an Episcopal priest, and an adult palliative care clinician—will combine professional experience, evidence-based clinical practice, and theological analysis in providing attendees with practical tools for approaching these challenging situations.