In the past year, I have lost two coworkers to cancer. Just recently another coworker left his job due to – you guessed it, cancer – so he could spend what remaining time he has with his family. These wonderful people were given a death sentence. They had a head’s up as to when their life’s end/deadline would occur.
Because I care for these people, I’ve been grieving and pondering what their remaining days and weeks were like.
What does one do when they leave their doctor’s office after receiving a fatal prognosis and a guesstimate of how much time remains for them? Of course the initial news floors them and their emotions run wild with rawness, sadness, fear, and maybe even extreme anger. But then they get home, hopefully surrounded by at least one loved one, and…then what?
I know much discussion will ensue of an emotional, practical, and perhaps even legal manner. That goes without saying.
But do you then get out your bucket list and see if any remaining items can be checked off before time runs out?
Or how about a game of Scrabble? Does that seem too mundane and unimportant in light of life’s waning hours?
I’m not trying to be cavalier about this matter and I hope I’m not coming off as insensitive. I’m really troubled by even thinking about having such a prognosis and filling out my remaining days in a valuable way. And again, I’m thinking about my coworkers’ final days and wondering what those days were like for these stellar people. How did they manage?
Personally, I have a very realistic outlook on death – it’s certainly inevitable. I’ve accepted the fact that no one can escape it. And of course I have my preferences on the manner in which I die. For example, if I’m fortunate, I’ll follow in my mother’s footsteps when back on September 24th, 1994, she went to bed none the worse for wear, and never woke up again. Since no autopsy was done, we don’t know the actual cause of death but on this my family can agree – if we have the choice, we’d like to be taken by surprise – in as pain free a manner as possible. If I’ve left no statements unsaid, no deeds left undone, I’d rather not have a calendar in front of me crossing out each remaining day in my life.
How would I fill my days if, like my coworkers, I’m given a death sentence of a finite period of time?
I don’t have the answer, so if by chance you’ve been part of life’s final deadline with a loved one or close friend, what proved valuable to you and your loved one? How did you manage not to think of the remaining time every minute of every day?
In short – how did you survive the process?