Thinking beyond rupture: Continuity and relationality in everyday illness and dying experience

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21 Citations (Scopus)


This article challenges the dominance of a rupture model for understanding how we live day-to-day with life-threatening illness and the prospect of death. It argues that this model acts as a key interpretive framework for understanding dying and its related experiences. As a result, a rupture model upholds a normative and inherently crisis-based view of severe ill-health that reifies dying as an experience which exists outside of, and somehow transformatively beyond, everyday matters of ordinary life. These matters include the minutiae of daily experience which inform and shape our lived identities - as individuals and as relational selves. Drawing primarily on interview data from two family case studies that have contributed to an ethnographic project exploring family experiences of living with life-threatening illness, it will show how mundane, daily life is integral to understanding the ways in which families are produced and able to maintain a sense of continuity during circumstances of impending death. The analysis presented here moves analytical understanding of dying experience towards a theory of how individuals and families 'know' and engage with so-called 'big' life events and experiences. In this way, my study helps generate a novel and more inclusive way of understanding living with life-threatening/limiting illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-269
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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