Hope is needed for persons confronting the limits of human life, antagonised by the threats of death. It is needed also for those health and medical professionals constrained by the institution of medicine, determined by market metaphors and instrumental reasoning. Yet, despair can masquerade as hope for such persons when functional hoping for particular outcomes or aims proves futile and aimless. The following will examine such masquerades, while giving attention to particular expressions of autonomy, which persist as fodder for despair in our late modern milieu. The late classical account of Hercules and his death, as well as contemporary reasons for soliciting medical assistance in dying, will focus on the diagnostics of despair, while a Christian account practicing presence, and of hope as a concrete posture enfleshed by habits of patience, among other virtues, will point toward counter-narratives that might sustain persons in times of crisis and enable persons’ flourishing as human beings, even unto death.
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