The intention of this study was to acquire more knowledge of how nurses can support the terminally ill patient by focusing on the spiritual/existential dimension.

Data were collected by semi-structured interviews of one nurse and one patient, who was dying of cancer in his own home. The study is based primarily upon Katie Eriksson’s nursing theories, because she explicitly includes the spiritual/existential dimension of man. Furthermore, I have used the theories of Marit Kirkevold and Steen Wackerhausen concerning competence, as well as reports on the existential dimension have been used.

The results of the study show that the existential need is not an ordinary part of daily conversations between nurses and patient. If the subjekt arises, it is on the patient’s initiative. The initiative of the patient seems to be important for the nurse. Existential issues were momentous for the terminally ill patient. The nurse lacks the necessary skills to uncover and address such issues.