Advertisement

Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 251–268 | Cite as

Emerging Finnish Adults Coping with Cancer: Religious, Spiritual, and Secular Meanings of the Experience

  • Suvi-Maria Saarelainen
Article

Abstract

The article presents empirical findings on religious, spiritual, and secular coping among emerging Finnish adults with cancer and seeks an understanding of the different meanings they constructed of their experience with cancer. Autobiographical interviews and life tree drawings of 16 emerging adults were analyzed utilizing a narrative approach. To gain a deeper understanding of the cancer-coping and meaning-making processes, the stories of Beth, Sophia, and Anna are explored in detail. An exploration of the meaning-making process of all the participants shows that over time many of the participants were able to find meaning in their cancer experience. Religious meaning was found when the disease was discovered as a calling from God, spiritual meaning was discovered within a buffered identity and important relationships, and secular meaning was found in the courage to make a career change. The theoretical discussion points out a gap between the disciplines of theology and psychology of religion. The gap is partly bridged by utilizing the concepts of lived religion and existentially oriented spirituality in the discussion of meaning-making theories.

Keywords

Religious coping Lived religion Spirituality Meaning-making Emerging adulthood Cancer 

References

  1. Ammerman, N. T. (2013). Spiritual but not religious? Beyond binary choices in the study of religion. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 52(2), 258–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ausker, N. (2012). Tid til forandring? Forhandlinger af religøs kontinuitet, forandring og forbrug hos kræftpatienter i Denmark (Time for change? Cancer patients’ negotiations of religious continuity, change, and consumption in Denmark). Doctoral dissertation: Køpenhavns Universitet, Copenhagen, Denmark.Google Scholar
  3. Bamberg, M. (2011a). Who am I? Narration and its contribution to self and identity. Theory & Psychology, 21(1), 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bamberg, M. (2011b). Who am I? Big or small—shallow or deep? Theory & Psychology, 21(1), 122–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boelsbjerg, H. B. (2013). Det hellige rum: Sjælesorgssamtaler på hospitaler (Sacred space: Conversations of pastoral care in hospitals). Tidsskrift for Forskning i Sygdom og Samfund, 10(18), 67–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Burns, R.C. (2009). Kinetic-house-tree-person drawings (K-H-T-P): An interpretative manual. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Corrigan, J. (2004). Introduction: Emotions research and the academic study of religion. In J. In Corrigan (Ed.), Religion and emotion. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Esin, C., & Squire, C. (2013). Visual autobiographies in East London: Narratives of still images, interpersonal exchanges, and intrapersonal dialogues. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(2), 1–21.Google Scholar
  10. EVL. (2016). Members of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. http://evl.fi/EVLfi.nsf/Documents/68ED832793E78AF5C22575EF003AD029?OpenDocument&lang=FI.
  11. Frankl, V. E. (2010) Ihmisyyden rajalla (O. Jokinen & E. Sandborg, Trans). Keuruu: Otava. (Original work published 1959 as From Death-Camp to Existentialism)Google Scholar
  12. Freeman, M. (2010). Even amidst: Rethinking narrative coherence. In M. Hyvärinen, L.-C. Hýden, M. Saarenheimo, & M. Tamboukou (Eds.), Beyond narrative coherence (pp. 147–166). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  13. Freeman, M. (2011). Stories, big and small: Toward a synthesis. Theory & Psychology, 1(21), 114–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ganzevoort, R. (1998a). Religious coping reconsidered part one: An integrated approach. Journal of Psychology and. Theology, 26, 260–275.Google Scholar
  15. Ganzevoort, R. (1998b). Religious coping reconsidered part two: A narrative formulation. Journal of Psychology and. Theology, 26, 276–286.Google Scholar
  16. Ganzevoort, R. R. (2013). Introduction: Religious stories we live by. In R. R. Ganzevoort, M. A. C. de Haardt, & M. Scherer-Rath (Eds.), Religious stories we live by: Narrative approach in theology and religious studies (pp. 1–17). Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ganzevoort, R. R., & Roeland, J. H. (2014). Lived religion: The praxis of practical theology. International Journal of Practical Theology, 18(1), 91–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grinyer, A. (2007). Young people living with cancer: Implications for policy and practice. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Grinyer, A. (2009). Life after cancer in adolescence and young adulthood: The experience of survivorship. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Heino, H. (2002). Mihin Suomi tänään uskoo. Porvoo: WSOY.Google Scholar
  21. Hermans, C. A. M. (2014). From practical theology to practice-oriented theology: The study of lived spirituality and lived religion in late modernity. International Journal of Practical Theology, 18(1), 113–126.Google Scholar
  22. Hvidt, E. A. (2013a). Exploring spiritual orientation among Danish (secular) cancer patients in rehabilitation: Combining empeiria and teoria. In M. Fowler, J. L. Hochheimer, & J. Fernandez-Goldborough (Eds.), Spirituality: Theory, praxis and pedagogy (pp. 121–146). Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hvidt, E. A. (2013b). Sources of ‘relational homes’: A qualitative study of cancer survivors’ perceptions of emotional support. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 16(6), 617–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Katz, C., & Hamama, L. (2013). “Draw me everything that happened to you”: Exploring children’s drawings of sexual abuse. Children and Youth Review, 35, 877–882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kyngäs, H., Jämsä, T., Mikkonen, R., Nousiainen, E.-M., Rytilahti, M., Seppänen, P., & Vaattovaara, R. (2000). Terveys ei ole enää itsestään selvyys. Se on elämän suuri lahja: Tutkimus syöpää sairastavien nuorten selviytymisestä sairauden kanssa (Health is no longer taken for granted. It is a great gift of life. Study among young people coping with their disease). Oulu: Pohjois-Pohjanmaan sairaanhoitopiirin julkaisuja 1/2000.Google Scholar
  26. la Cour, P., & Hvidt, N. C. (2010). Research on meaning-making and health in secular society: Secular, spiritual and religious existential orientations. Social Science & Medicine, 71, 1292–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Landmark, B. T., Strandmark, M., & Wahl, A. K. (2001). Living with newly diagnosed breast cancer – The meaning of existential issues. Cancer Nursing, 24(3), 220–226.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lankinen, J. (2001). Syöpäpotilaan pastoraaliset odotukset (Cancer patients’ expectations of pastoral care). Suomalainen Teologinen Kirjallisuusseura, Helsinki, Finland: Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
  29. Lev-Wiesel, R., & Liraz, R. (2007). Drawings vs. narratives: Drawing as a tool to encourage verbalization in children whose fathers are drug abusers. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12(1), 65–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lieblich, A. (1998). The holistic-content perspective. In A. Lieblich, R. Tuval-Mashiach, & T. Zilber (Eds.), Narrative research: Reading, analysis and interpretation (pp. 62–87). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lundmark, M. (2010). When Mrs. B met Jesus during radiotherapy: A single case study of a Christic vision—psychological prerequisites and functions and considerations on narrative methodology. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 32(1), 27–68.Google Scholar
  32. Lundmark, M. (2015). Religious objects and the coping process. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 37(1), 54–83.Google Scholar
  33. Mattila, K.-P. (2002). Syöpäpotilaan palliatiivisen hoidon keskeiset eettiset ongelmat (The ethical problems in the palliative care of cancer patients). Suomalainen Teologinen Kirjallisuusseura, Helsinki, Finland: Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
  34. McAdams, D. P. (1988). Power, intimacy and the life story: Personal inquiries into identity. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  35. McAdams, D. P. (2008). Personal narratives and life story. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (3rd ed., pp. 242–264). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. McAdams, D. P. (2009). The person: An introduction to the science of personality psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. McGuire, M. B. (2008). Lived religion. Faith and practice in everyday life. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nielsen, R. (2005). Her kan man få lov at være sig selv. En kvalitativ undersøgelse fra Sankt Lukas Hospice (Individuals are allowed to be themselves here. A qualitative study on Saint Lukas hospice). Hellerup: Sankt Lukas Stiftelsen.Google Scholar
  39. Nielsen, R., & Sørensen, E. E. (2013). Det døende menneske som livets læremester (The dying person as a mentor for life). Nordisk Sygeplejeforskning, 2, 117–129.Google Scholar
  40. Niemelä, K. (2011). Heikkeneekö uskonnollisuus ikäryhmissä? Uskonnollinen kasvatus ja sen merkitys uskonnollisuuden selittäjänä (Does religiosity decrease in different ages? The significance of religious upbringing to religiosity). In K. Ketola et al. (Eds.), Uskonto suomalaisten elämässä (Religion in the lives of Finns). Tampere: Juvenes Print.Google Scholar
  41. Nolan, S., Saltmarsh, P., & Leget, C. (2011). Spiritual care in palliative care: Working towards an EAPC task force. European Journal of Palliative Care, 18(2), 86–89.Google Scholar
  42. Oman, D. (2013). Defining religion and spirituality. In R. Paloutzian & C. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (Vol. 2, pp. 23–47). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  43. Pain, H. (2012). A literature review to evaluate the choice and use of visual methods. International Journal of Qualitative Methods , 11(4), 303–319Google Scholar
  44. Palmu, H., et al. (2012). Haastettu kirkko: Suomen evankelis-luterilainen kirkko vuosina 2008–2011. In (Challenged Church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland in the Years 2008–2011). Porvoo. Kirjapaja.Google Scholar
  45. Pargament, K. I. (1999). The psychology of religion and spirituality? Yes and no. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9(1), 3–16Google Scholar
  46. Park, C. (2013). Religion and meaning. In R. Paloutzian & C. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (Vol. 2, pp. 357–379). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  47. Parks, S. D. (2011). Big questions, worthy dreams (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  48. Patterson, W. (2008). Narratives of events: Labovian narrative analysis and its limitations. In M. Andrews, C. Squire, & M. Tamboukou (Eds.), Doing narrative research (pp. 23–41). London: SageGoogle Scholar
  49. Ramshaw, E. J. (2010). The personalization of postmodern post-mortem rituals. Pastoral Psychology, 29, 171–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Riessman, C. K. (2008). Narrative methods for human sciences. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.Google Scholar
  51. Rippikoulusuunnitelma. (2001). Elämä—usko—rukous: Rippikoulusuunnitelma 2001 (Life—faith—prayer: The plan for confirmation school 2001). http://sakasti.evl.fi/sakasti.nsf/0/85780A9E8154761EC225770A003912B4/$FILE/Rippikoulusuunnitelma%202001.pdf.
  52. Saarelainen, S.-M. K. (2015). Life tree drawings as a methodological approach in young adults’ life stories during cancer remission. Narrative Works: Issues, Investigations, & Interventions, 5(1), 68–91.Google Scholar
  53. Saarelainen, S.-M. (2016). Coping-related themes in cancer stories of young Finnish adults. International Journal of Practical Theology, 20(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Salander, P. (2006). Who needs the concept of ‘spirituality’? Psycho-Oncology, 15, 647–649.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Schnell, T. (2009). Sources of meaning and meaning in life questionnaire (SoMe): Relations to demographics and well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(6), 483–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schnell, T. (2012). Spirituality with and without religion: Differential relationships with personality. Archive for Psychology of Religion, 34, 33–61.Google Scholar
  57. Schnell, T., & Keenan, W. J. F. (2013). The construction of atheist spirituality: A survey-based Study. In H. Westerink (Ed.), Constructs of meaning and religious transformation: Current issues in the psychology of religion (pp. 101–119). Göttingen: V&R Unipress.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Scobie, G. E. W. (1994). Belief, unbelief and conversion experience. In J. Corveleyn & D. Hutsebaut (Eds.), Belief and unbelief: Psychological perspectives (pp. 87–98). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  59. Seibaek, L., Petersen, L. K., Blaakaer, J., & Hounsgaard, L. (2012). Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst: The lived experiences of women undergoing ovarian cancer surgery. European Journal of Cancer Care, 21(3), 360–371.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Seibaek, L., Hounsgaard, L., & Hvidt, N. C. (2013). Secular, spiritual, and religious existential concerns of women with ovarian cancer during final diagnostics and start of their treatment. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1–11.Google Scholar
  61. Sonninen, S. (Ed.). (2012). Nuoren syöpäpotilaan selviytymisopas (Survival Guide for Young Cancer Patient). http://syopapotilaat-fi-bin.directo.fi/@Bin/8310b65eba2b31a7a031d6e660b74dec/1470901152/application/pdf/471606/NuorenSyopapotSelviytymis_2016_Netti.pdf
  62. Tamboukou, M. (2010). Nomadic narratives, visual forces: Gwen John’s letters and paintings. New York: Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Torbjørnsen, T. (2011). “Gud hjelpe meg!” Religiøs mestring hos pasienter med Hodgkins sykdom (God help me! Religious coping of patients with Hodgkin’s disease). Det Teologiske Meninghetsfakultet, Oslo, Norway: Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
  64. Wuchterl, K. (2011). Kontingenz oder das Andere der Vernunft (Contingency or the other as the reason). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.Google Scholar
  65. Zebrack, B., & Walsh-Burke, K. (2004). Advocacy needs of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors: Perspectives of pediatric oncology social workers. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 22(2), 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zinnbauer, B. J., & Pargament, K. I. (2005). Religiousness and spirituality. In R. Paloutzian (Ed.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 21–42). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of TheologyUniversity of Helsinki(Vuorikatu 3)Finland

Personalised recommendations