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Purpose: This study aimed to explain and understand the existential meaning of the finality of life from the perspective of healthy older adults.

Method: Participants were recruited from a major project on older adults’ life situations. They were interviewed about their thoughts on the end of life, and their responses were interpreted using a lifeworld hermeneutic approach.

Results: The findings showed that thinking about the inevitable finality of life involves feelings of liberation, frightening thoughts, a comforting promise of something beyond death, acceptance of the concept of death as a companion in life and a desire to live. Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir’s existential ideas about ageing and death were then used to further explain and understand the meaning of the finality of life and to support a comprehensive understanding. de Beauvoir suggests that when the temporal horizon of existence shrinks, one lives closer to the finality of life. For a comprehensive understanding, attributing meaning to the finality of life required the intertwining of reconciliation and displacement. The interpretations were further discussed using ideas from the fields of existential philosophy and caring science in order to develop a basis for caring practice.

Conclusions: The conclusions suggested that professional health care for older adults would benefit from a lifeworld-led caring science approach that includes readiness for a caring dialogue that focuses on existential issues

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.