Death…most of us don’t want to think about it, but it is inevitable. When you found out that your time with your spouse or partner was coming to an end, did you discuss it? Was it an emotional discussion or strictly clinical/legal? Did you spouse want to discuss it or did you have to force the issue for legal purposes? Were you included on conversations with the doctors?
I should mention that my husband’s father is dying. No one is allowed to talk with him about it (per his mom). I don’t believe they’ve discussed it with each other (per her daughters, who she is very close with). I just find it rather odd…
Well, in our family’s case, my dad’s death was very sudden so Mom never had a chance to talk to him about it even if they had wanted to.
However, in your case, I’d say that it is perfectly justified if the man doesn’t want to dwell on discussing the situation. Perhaps he wants to try to maintain a sense of “normalcy” for as long as possible. So, personally, I’d say not to force the issue.
I’m sorry that this situation is going on. My sympathies to your family.
My sympathies to you and your family, knowing someone is dying or will die before their time is always very hard.
My husband had been diabetic since he was 13 and we were married when he was 22. He was fine for years, but by the time he was about 32 it started getting worse. Insulin reactions, wounds that wouldn’t heal, finally kidney failure. We were both part of the medical decisions, but I more so than him, he didn’t really want to think about it too much.
He had two transplant operations, the last in 1997 and after that (he got a pancreas the second time) he was free of diabetes for the first time in years. It made us unbelievably happy. He discussed what would happen if he died, but only with me, he would tell me he wanted me to remarry and be happy and all that. No one else really knew how sick he was, and he wanted to keep it that way, he wanted people to treat him normally.
In March of 1999 I found out my mother was very sick and probably going to die of senile dementia, and her husband had put her in the nursing home, (she was only 62). We all went out to visit her and she recognized all of us.
We came back to Chicago and he and I sat in the kitchen talking about it, what would I do if I lost my mother… He said “don’t worry lovey, you’ll always have me”
The next day while I was at work, he died of an apparent heart attack at home. When he didn’t answer the phone, or his cell phone I jumped in a cab and when home, and found him there.
Three weeks later, April 20th, my mother died too.
I don’t know how I didn’t go crazy, I think it just all went numb for awhile.
To add icing to the cake, the startup company I was working for went under a month after that.
I collected unemployment, drank too much and hung out at the lake all summer, finally finding another job in September.
In the end though, I think my husband was a happy man, dispite his sickness, and I think that not dwelling on it, allowed him to be happy to the very end. If everyone had known, and treated him differently because he was sick, I think a part of him would have died way before his body ever did.
Wow, Myrnajean. I’m very sorry for your losses. That’s an awful lot to handle at once. I probably would have gone nuts. I agree with you that dwelling on an illness is no good. I suppose he’s fortunate that he had a stroke and he’s not exactly firing on all four cylinders anymore. I don’t think he’s capable of dwelling on his impending death. The idea of it comes and goes in his mind, but it’s not there 24/7.
Lavenderviolet, it’s not his choice not to discuss it…it’s my MIL’s. She’s the one that’s in denial, and unwilling to talk about death. She’s worried about feeding him balanced meals, when all we want to do is get something in his stomach (he’s down to about 125 lbs.). The nurse says the end is near – probably a matter of weeks. I feel sorry for my husband and his sisters because they really can’t say goodbye (you can’t really tapdance around a goodbye – the issue sort of has to be faced head-on).
My husband was a submarine sailor. Before every patrol we discussed the “What If” It was hard at times, but as the years went by it became easier. Of course you never think this will happen. My day came. The knock at the door. My CACO officer had come to deliver the news. After 22 years of marriage I had been trained. I knew what was coming, I knew what to expect. One of those years we had even written down on paper what to expect. With my CACO sitting at the table, CO, XO and Chaplin, I pulled out this paper. To say I was prepared… yes. To say I was ready… no. I looked at the CO and I said… I know the rules… but I don’t know how to play the game. I remember years ago when my husband was getting these young sailors ready for sea telling him to please help them to understand how important it is to get the familys ready. He always did… someday you might get that knock…
Hi Kalhoun, how are things going with you and your family? I hope all of you are doing as well as can be expected, considering.
It’s amazing how few people deal with this subject, considering, in the end, we all have to deal with it.
My best wishes, and peace to you and your family.
I am sorry for everyone’s losses here. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lead a normal life with normal thoughts and never even think about death. I cannot recall ever in my life being galvanized into denial. I use to think that I was heartless and cold, then I realized I was more along the lines of Grumpy Old Men and saying, " Lucky Bastard." when hearing that someone died a quick death.
Death is a constant visitor at our table talks. In fact it is at every table conversation that* I can ever remember. *
How do you want to be buried? How do you feel about a cardboard box casket? shall I bury you ina mumu or a bikini? Instead of a Funeral Dirge, how about a nice round of Kareoke to liven things up? Drinks on the house, no way this is an Irish Catholic thing and they are a bunch of freeloading lushes. BYOB and we’ll have a drink on your casket. When you die can I have such and such (prized item). this last one is something that apparently shocks most, but is a standard line in our immediate family.
An Actual Conversation Between my Mother and Me:
Mom, “When I die I want everyone to drink out of waterford crystal in a toast to my honor.”
“Honor, when did you get honor?”
“And, who is supplying the Waterford Crystal for this solemn moment?Hmmm?”
Mom, " Why, you, of course."
“Hmmmm, I wonder if I can pass Dixie cups off as Waterford.”
It goes on and on.
Death is a regular visitor around my house and frankly, I don’t know why people don’t talk more about it. It can clear the air on many things, liven up the discussion and give everyone a sense of “hey, despite our loss when Bob died, he always wanted that flower arrangment at his funeral to say, " Best of Luck at your new location.” and they did it Bob’s way, and he would have liked it.
What is perceived to be the end is actually the beginning. They will always be a part of us and will wait for us for our journey to begin.
Now, my husbands family, well, they don’t talk about it. Despite having both been in a catastrophic accident years back, they just don’t talk about these things. Since coming over from Germany, all the deaths in the family have been over there and they are really detached from the whole process of losing someone.
My husband thinks my family is weird. I think his is in denial. We are very frank about these things.
Mr. Ujest and I do talk about death. And what heroic measures are to be taken in the event of a terrible accident. We have a will, with the only problem of who will take care of our kids should be both buy the farm. Since I have no one on my side to take them, he thinks our only option is nice-but-severly-deluded Evangelical-WASP sister. ( I have no qualms about the WASP part, its the bible stuff…their bible stuff. It’s scary to both of us, but I have no other options, so, needless to say, I don’t plan on dying.)
My wish for anyone whom I love, like, shared a joke with and have respected is that when their time comes that they are hit by a drunken beer truck driver.
Quick. Painless and nothing takes the sting out of mourning like a big fat settlement from a multi-national conglomeration.
If this actually answers the OP, I would be shocked.
Peace to you and your family during this time.
Having been there, I can truly sympathize.
I lost my wife 7 1/2 years ago from an autoimmune disorder that acted like a very fast-moving Alzheimer’s. It involved progressive dementia, shutting down the reasoning functions, and included aphasia (loss of ability to speak). By the time she was correctly diagnosed, we weren’t sure how much she could comprehend. When I asked her if she wanted to talk about what was happening to her, she said “No,” and shortly thereafter it became moot with the aphasia.
So we didn’t get to say goodbye, as such. And she couldn’t share thoughts with the kids (19 and 13) or provide bequests of her choice.
We had talked years before, but only in a general way, about what to do if one of us died or became seriously ill. “What would I ever do without you?” she’d say, and I’d insist she would do just fine. With survival rates so clearly in favor of women, neither of us guessed it would be her that would leave.
And, you can guess, we had no formal will or other arrangements.
I have since remarried, and we have interlocking wills, powers of attorney and detailed what-if scemarios involving life-prolonging procedures in various circumstances. It is a great comfort to have worked it all out in advance, including what happens if we are both killed. All of this is even more important when you have a blended family, with all the potential for misunderstandings on the part of the survivors.
Not quite the same situation as the OP, but it’s a lot easier to do dispassionately, before denial of impending loss colors your reactions.
Hope that helps, and that you all find peace.
**Myrnajean, ** thanks for asking. Surprisingly, my FIL has rallied once again, and although he’s an invalid, he shows no signs of checking out any time soon. He doesn’t appear to be in pain, and occasionally keeps up with some of the conversation. Go figure.
We still don’t discuss his death with him, but my MIL has given me the CDs and listed out the songs she wants on his funeral CD. So THAT’s done. And I found an appropriate outfit to wear, although at this rate, I may have to get another one to accomodate warmer weather!
Shirly Ujest, every time I think about the losses people endure in their families, I think of you and how utterly hideous it must have been to lose your brothers the way you did. I’m just so sad for you. I love that you still have your sense of humor, though I don’t think I’d have one after what you’ve been through. I wish you peace.