Would you want to know

MariposaTraicioneraFebruary 7, 2006

How long you have to live? My sister's condition at the moment got me to thinking about this....

There is the positive side to it...you get to say goodbye, to say sorry and to enjoy a different type of relationship with those around you (more loving). So, would you want to know? I am not sure that I would....

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I'm sorry about your sister, Mari. You pose a thoughtful question that I probably would answer differently now than I would have 20 years ago.

I think I'd want to know that my condition was terminal, so I WOULD know I needed to make amends and say my goodbyes. I don't think I'd want to know 'how long' because I would want to see each day as a gift, and not measure my time against a calendar.

Your post should remind us all that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, and we should tell our loved ones every day how much they mean to us.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 9:18AM
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Are you talking about knowing in the case of a terminal illness or knowing regardless of your health/state in life? I would guess that anyone who has a terminal illness would want an estimate of how much time they have left in order to begin that much needed closure.

However, I do try to live my life in such a way that if I were to die tomorrow I wouldn't have too many regrets. But like Pecan said, weighing each day against a calendar would add tremendous anxiety to my life, which would diminish how I would navigate each day and constrain how I would interact with others. So to answer your question, I guess I'd rather live life not knowing when it will end and viewing each day as an irreplaceable gift. One of the benefits of an immortal soul is that death is a transition and that there is so much more to come.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 9:35AM
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I guess that's why most of us don't know when our time is coming to an end. As another sister said to me yesterday, 'one day you're going about taking life for granted and the next you're in the hospital being told you have 6-12 months left.' This situation really got me thinking about it though. Even my children talked about whether they'd want to know. The sudden death we experienced in the family last summer left us all saying that if only we had known this was going to happen... we lamented not having time to say goodbye.

I find myself not knowing what to say to sis. Of course she only had surgery last week and this is still new for us, but she has been relatively calm...shock perhaps from the surgery and morphine.

This is yet another 'adventure' for my family. I learned a lot since last summer and have no doubt that my family and I will be learning even more during the next few months.

Thank goodness for remodelling. Whereas so many have complained that their marriages and lives were in turmoil over remodelling, I have to say that my bathroom remodel will probably keep me focused and calm. Then there will be the kitchen to tend to.

Thank you Pecan and Cup.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 10:00AM
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Mari, I'm so sorry about your sister, as well as your loss last year. This is such a tough time for you and your family.

I wonder whether it's a religious or cultural thing, or something innate, but we seem to have a strong need to make peace and say goodbye. When there's a lingering illness (as in the case of my father), both the sick person and the family have time to go through this process. But we don't kiss someone goodbye every time they leave the room; we sometimes let anger simmer for days; we have all kinds of unfinished projects and responsibilities in our lives, and there are always loose ends. It's hard to live every day as if it's our last (unless we suspect that the end is really near); that's just life, for most of us. And if something should happen unexpectedly, the survivors may have a lot of guilt and remorse that every problem was not resolved (perhaps that's part of grieving).

My Mom died suddenly, after an accident. I can't tell you how comforted I was to know that our last phone conversation had been a really good one (she had called me on my birthday, just a few days earlier); there were no unresolved issues, and we really "connected." I am so grateful that she did not suffer or even realize what was happening; she just lost consciousness and peacefully passed away.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 1:21PM
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In general, no. I don't want to know. However, if I had a terminal illness (and therefore already knew, to an extent) I would want to have an idea of how much time was left so that I could plan a little.

So sorry about your sister. Mortality is so difficult to come to terms with.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 1:43PM
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I don't think I would want to know how long I would have to live. Actually we are all in that position every day. We don't really know. Just because we may not be sick we still should look at each day as it might be our last. Unfortunately we are all human and we do get caught up with our everyday tasks and forget our priorities which are our family and friends. I remember watching Forest Gump a few years ago and I commented to my husband on how simple his views were about life and how he took each day as it came. After the past couple of weeks of being faced with death, I am trying to look at life a little differently. Not to stress about things that arent important and to be a little more patient about things in general because after we die those things wont matter, What people will remember most will be how you make them feel and not what you have done for them.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 9:06PM
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My wife's a big Sylvia Brown fan, and she watches Montel WIlliams (I believe) every wednesday to watch Sylvia answer audience questions, and invariably, every couple of shows, someone will ask that question. It got me thinking the first time I heard it, and my "Libra" influence took over. I'm split on it. In a way, I'd like to know so that I can make sure I have everything in order when it's time. On the other hand, I'd rather it be a surprise, because the anticipation and apprehension about what's on the other side would be incredible. In addition, when time started getting short, I don't think I'd be able to think about anything else but!! Kinda like preparing for a major move! :-)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 10:15PM
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How long you have to live?

Absolutely. That way you can tell the contractor he needs to finish the remodel before you die if he wants to get paid.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 11:31AM
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In watching my sister I still don't know if I'd want to know. Part of me says 'yes' because I have children, the other part of me thinks 'no' because I'd agonise over everything...might feel differently as I learn through her experience.

Thought I might be able to continue as before with the kitchen/bath remodel. Somehow all the choices seem trivial now, and they weren't that important before but now they're even less so. The bathroom will get done sometime soon because there is a problem that needs fixing so I'll steal time away and use that as a sort of refuge from the storm.

Might not be around too much. Keep us in your prayers, thoughts or whatever you might believe in. BTW, sister's name is Jacqueleyn.

Thank you, and don't be afraid to discuss dying. It's a part of life.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 11:45AM
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Seems like whenever you do know, itÂs because of a terminal illness. After losing my mom to cancer and watching my fatherÂs struggle with AlzheimerÂs now, IÂd have to say that I donÂt want to know. However great it is to get all of your emotional and financial duck in a row, to me it doesnÂt make up for what you have to endure. No one close to me has died unexpectedly, so I canÂt really compare the two.

Mariposa, IÂm sorry to hear about your sisterÂs illness. DonÂt worry about what to say to your sister. This is a weird situation for everyone, including her. Things may be awkward at first, but youÂll all find your way. Please remember to take care of yourself!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 1:09PM
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I can. My mother suffered for a year and a half with cancer, and my father, whom although we should have realised he was a tragedy waiting to happen, showed no symptoms. He went to bed saturday night, august 31, 1985, and the next morning, he was dead at 53. At the time we were doing the tile for the Connecticut state Chief Medical Examiner's office building in Farmintgton at UConn Health Center when it happened, and as a favor to the family the CME did the autopsy himself immediately. What he told us was that even if my father had been in a cardiac ICU, there wouldn't have been anything they could have done for him, because the heart attack was so massive and so sudden. At the most, 5 minutes, and it was all over. It's a funny thing-- although it's exactly the way I'd want to go-- quick and in my sleep-- I wouldn't wish it on a family member to have to deal with it. Talk about unanswered questions! It left my whole family completely stunned. Personally, I was a mess for a few years, and even now, 20 years later, it still affects me from time to time. There are certain movies I can't watch, and certain songs I can't listen to without going to pieces because they remind me so much of him. Even just typing this out is tough.

As much as you don't want to see your loved ones suffer, atleast you have the chance and the time to say good bye, and let them know how you feel, and how much they'll be missed.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 1:40PM
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For my families sake, I would want to know. I have experienced the sudden death of my mother due to an auto accident and a few years later the death of my father due to cancer. It was agonizing to see my father in such pain at the end, and I would never wish that on anyone. That being said, I do have some wonderful memories of my time spent with him during his final few months as he was living with us. I was able to accept his death much easier than my mothers. To this day, I can hardly talk about her without getting a bit teary-eyed. No last hugs, no last I love you's. The old cliche' "closure" really does mean something, to me at least.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 3:24PM
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