- Death & Loss of Life
Terminal Illness Living With My Death How I do It
Would you want to know if you had a terminal illness?
Would you want to know how long you had to live?
What, you don't want to think about that? You plan on living for ever? The truth is we are all susceptible to having a tragic illness hit us at any time. How would you handle it? There really is no one right answer that covers everybody. It's too personal, too private, too emotional and very individual. So what does this have to do with anything? Why would somebody write about something so taboo? Surely I must know nobody wants to think of their own immortality. Well, I'm not sure why I am writing this, I just felt I had to. Maybe it might help somebody who's struggling with dying so they won't feel alone or think that nobody could possibly understand. Well I DO understand, because.... I'm dying.
Yes me. one of the ones who thought it couldn't happen to me. Of course we are all dying from the time we are born, it's called natural aging but this is different. This is the dying that comes from something attacking a part of our bodies that is essential for survival.
So you want to know how I'm handling it.....
Well everyday is different I guess. It's very humbling and hard to explain actually. The day I got the news I was in the hospital on oxygen. Had been for a week. I guess I already knew deep down but God gave me peace and a calmness about it. Some days I have to remind myself that it's real by thinking... "I have a terminal illness, there's no cure, I'm slowly dying each day and there's nothing I can do to stop it".
That I suppose is my way of putting things into perspective but most days I try not to think about it. Maybe that's my form of denial. I wasn't given a time limit with my diagnosis. Under the right conditions I could die in a week, a month or maybe not for another 20 years from now. Everyday it hangs over my head so yes I am forced to think about making funeral arrangements, getting things in order so to speak. I truly hadn't thought much about that stuff because I was going live to be a ripe old age. I may still, if Gods willing, but right now is now and you deal with it the best you can. I take each day at a time and try to enjoy it and thank God each morning I wake up. Knowing something is killing a part of you and it can't be stopped by human hands or technology, well, you kind of have to take notice at some point and face reality. It's not easy.
Do I cry much?
I have always had to be the strong one as a single mom but you know what, some days I'm just not strong even as a Christian so sure there were a couple times I went to the pity bank and drew out a few boo hoos for myself, there might even be more days to come but you know what, it's normal, like I said everyday and everybody is different. Let yourself "feel" what's happening if you want to. It's okay. It's human. There are times I think about my life and what I could have done differently but I suggest you don't do that. I can't change a darn thing and you can't either it only causes depression and guilt. Don't dwell on the things you didn't do before but enjoy what you do now.
Am I feeling sorry for myself?
No, but I do get frustrated at being only 47 when I can't go out on a sunny day and ride my bike or walk very far. I even have to be very careful of crowds and bad weather so I don't catch anything that might turn into pneumonia. I struggle to mow my yard which I suppose I'll continue to do it even if it kills me, (No pun intended, you have to realize I have a warped sense of humor). I'll do it because I love it and simply, because I'm stubborn. My having a good relationship with God has helped and given me the ability to know Him and understand all things work for good through Him so I try not to focus on what I can't do anymore and look at what I can do now.
Sometimes I feel He's given me a gift, sent me on an adventure even. The opportunity to,"stop and smell the roses" or "coffee", as some would have it. As I've said, I may not be able to do all the things I enjoyed and loved before but the need for rest gives me more time to sit with my youngest and really talk with him, more time to read some of my favorite books, more time to take notice of the simple things I'd been missing. I want to see everything. I'm not talking about traveling I'm talking about really "seeing" what's right in front of my nose. The silkiness of a flower petal. How many trips the robin makes back and forth to make a nest for her babies in my cedar tree, watching the leaves not fall, but dance to the ground as they leave the branches.
My faith has also given me the ability to trust God completely and see this as an opportunity to grow and become an even better person. Maybe even be a help to someone else. After all nobody can truly understand what someone is going through unless they've been there themselves. As a Christian I have found it's a great blessing to be used of God to help another no matter how He uses us but....and there almost always is a but.... I still like it here and want to stay for awhile. Dying can be scary, yes even for a Christian strong in their faith. It's said we all want to go to heaven but we don't want to die to get there. It's true. We all kind of like living don't we and even though our lives aren't perfect before they are still ours.
Would it be better to know how much time you have left?
For me personally that answer would be no. I hate schedules. I don't like deadlines. (Sorry, there's that warped sense of humor again). Knowing it's coming is enough for me. I can do what I have to do but do it my way. It gives me a sense of some kind of "control" over a life of which I ultimately have no control. Another type of Denial? Maybe. I'm no expert. I've never done this before. I don't know how YOU should handle a situation like this. All I can do is tell you how I'm doing it and hope in some way this helped somebody. Your circumstances may be different as all are but try to remember that even though you may have a terminal illness, your life doesn't always have to stop with the news of it. Cry, throw things, get mad do whatever will make you feel better emotionally so you can truly start living....the rest of your life.