The Atlantic on finding meaning in the face of death

Categories: In The Media.

In Emily Esfahani Smith’s article published on March 2, 2017, she explores the ways that the time between diagnosis and death can lead to “extraordinary growth.” 

The article explores the work of William Breitbart and begins:

The psychiatrist William Breitbart lives at the edge of life and death. As chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Breitbart specializes in end-of-life care for terminally ill cancer patients. For many of his patients, the most pressing question isn’t when they’ll die or how painful death will be. Rather, it’s what makes life meaningful. They are in search of a meaning that cannot be destroyed by death.

It is Breitbart’s belief that meaning and death are connected, “two sides of the same coin.”

Some of the important factors that bring meaning to people’s lives include the sense that their existence is valued by others, a sense of purpose and important life goals, and a sense of coherence in their lives. “Psychologists and philosophers say that the path to meaning lies in connecting and contributing to something that is bigger than the self, like family, country, or God,” writes Esfahani Smith.

Visit The Atlantic’s website to read the full article, “How to Find Meaning in the Face of Death.”