The Death of Ivan Ilych
How we cite our quotes:
It was true, as the doctor said, that Ivan Ilych's physical sufferings were terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief torture.
His mental sufferings were due to the fact that that night, as he looked at Gerasim's sleepy, good-natured face with its prominent cheek-bones, the question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life has been wrong?" (11.10-11)
The final ordeal Ivan goes through is the recurrence of that awful thought that his whole life has been lived wrongly. That's even worse than the physical pain he's suffering. It threatens to suggest that all of his suffering has no purpose, because Ivan's whole life has none. He's been a failure, and he's just about to lose any chance to redeem himself. As it turns out though, Ivan's suffering might be just what leads him to find a purpose in his life.