The Last Chapter in the Story: A Place for Aristotle's Eudaemonia in the Lives of the Terminally Ill
Author(s)Cowley, Christopher, MD
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AbstractThe 'deficiency model' of aging has often been criticized for its lack of attention to the individual patient's narrative understanding of his own life. However, such narrative conceptions tend to focus on a generic adult person, situated in specific on-going projects and relationships, moving toward a more or less clear conception of the future. What interest me, on the other hand, are those individuals who have become aware of their own death as imminent, and who therefore strive to compose the 'last chapter' of their life story. Imminence is not to be taken in chronological or clinical terms, but as revealing an attitude to oneself and one's own life. The composition of the last chapter requires recollecting and reappraising the events of one's life in an effort to make sense of the life as a whole. I propose revising the ancient Greek word eudaemonia to capture this sense of achieving an integrated meaning to one's life.