Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Clarice Staff, D.S.W.

Second Advisor

Laura Boisen, M.P.A, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sheila O'Riley, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.


Most research in the study of dying has focused on the attitudes towards death, anxiety surrounding the dying experience, and bereavement. There is scant research done in examining the personal meaning of the dying process of persons with a terminal illness. This study employed the methodology of hermeneutics, a qualitative research design in the study of phenomenology using text. This study used the interpretation of the text from two 60-90 minute in-depth interviews with individuals with a terminal illness to create a deeper understanding of the personal meaning of dying. The findings indicate that the phenomena of dying are an emotional, relational and spiritual process as well as a physical process. In addition, the study demonstrates that the lived experience of the dying process of those with a terminal illness has the potential to be a transcendent experience, lending personal meaning and purpose to one's living. This study adds to the literature of the dying process and indicates the need to educate end of life caregivers, including social workers, to the holistic needs of those with a terminal illness.


SC 11.MSW.2001.McCort.ME

Included in

Social Work Commons