Another wedding thread - now with a sad twist

I seem to start many threads about weddings, so here is another

(see past wedding threads - Should we go to this wedding? and Wedding invite etiquette)
This one, though is sad, and I guess I just need to talk about this and any input is welcome.

My GF has a friend back home who is getting married in August. The problem, however, is that her fiance is dying. He is 38, and when they met was already in treatment for various forms of cancer, primarily in his neck and throat. He has been through rounds and rounds of treatment, lost all hair, lost weight, can hardly speak due to the throat suregeries, etc. The future bride, Lisa, has remained positive and supportive throughout, but also a bit delusional, planning her fairytale wedding (her words) and planning on having children and a long happy life.

Last week he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and possible stomach cancer. At this point, it wouldn’t be a suprise he if doesn’t make it till August at all. But Lisa is going full ahead with the plans, booking a honeymoon, everything.

A few issues - he hasn’t been able to work in over year, and has considerable debt from all the treatment. Won’t she be responsible for this once they are married? Not to mention the cost of the wedding itself. This is also going to be the most akward and depressing wedding ever. All the guests know what is going on, and will likely feel very uncomfortable trying to keep a smile and good attitude. And if he does live that long, likely won’t be in very good shape at that time.

I don’t mean to suggest they should necessarily forgo the wedding if that makes them happy, I guess it just scares me that they aren’t be realistic about the future, and not looking forward to going myself, as it will so sad.
(I know the theme of my wedding posts appear to be ‘How can Fat Chance get out of going to this wedding’, but I assure you I have no thoughts of not going)

I’m not sure what your looking for here. It sucks that’s for sure.

Are either one of them religious? Maybe it’s very important in a religious way to one or both of them that they be married before he dies.

In terms of guests, they need to put aside their selfish feelings and not ruin the happy day by being morose. This should be a celebration of life, and two people making a pact that, to them, will far outlast death and the beyond. Imagine finding your true love while you’re on your literal death bed! That’s the stuff great novels are made of.

It is a common misconception that once people are married they are responsible for the debt of each other. Unless the debt is incurred by both it is not owed by both, plain and simple. Debt collectors will badger a spouse to pay on the other’s behalf until the cows come home, but they have no legal way of forcing it. It can only be considered a moral responsibility.

ETA - I think you should go the wedding and not say word one about what you perceive as their futile plans. It costs you nothing. Killing dreams is terrible and she might never forgive you for it.

I’ll comment on some practical aspects.

If she truly wants to get married to him and bear his children, she might want to consider getting a civil marriage very soon, and getting some of his sperm stored for future use. Given that she would very likely end up as a solo parent, this would be much more feasible if there is a life insurance policy (of a significant amount) to which she would be the beneficiary. A big wedding ceremony and reception with guests could then held in August, assuming the groom stays with us.

There’s really no way to avoid the sadness of the situation, but I don’t think it’s wise to amplify it by leaving her a single mom struggling to survive financially.

How does one measure the length of love?

When my sister was dying of liver cancer, her boyfriend went and married her anyways. They were married for less than a year, most of which my sister spent in her hospital bed. He held her and supported her until the end.

That is exactly what I plan on doing. I was just venting about how this is weighing on my mind, and thinking about what I would do if in either of their shoes.

That part makes me feel better. She will still have to incur all the costs of the wedding, and she nor her family have much.

I doubt there is much life insurance, as he has been sick for so long, and any he does have would go to children he had from a previous marriage I would think.

Fat Chance, before my husband and I got married, we sat down with a friend who’s a divorce lawyer and found out about how our state deals with marital property. This will vary from state to state. What’s in state law is the what happens if two people get married without other arrangements. For examplem in my state, any property someone brings into the marriage remains that person’s property. If someone brings money into the marriage, that money remains theirs unless it’s comingled. In other words, my checking account remains my money unless I pay our joint household bills out of it. Now, people can write prenuptial agreements outlining other arrangements, so we could have written out an agreement which said I got to keep the contents of my checking account no matter what.

If you’re concerned about how your friend’s fiance’s debts will affect her finances, I’d check out what the law is in her state. They may not necessarily become joint debts or they may be able to draw up an agreement which says she’s not responsible for the debts he brings into the marriage.

As for how long the marriage will last, none of us know that. If my husband dies at the same age his father did, we may not have 10 years together. I don’t think he’ll do that, but it’s a possibility. For that matter, I may get killed while out running errands later today. We do not and cannot know. Your friend’s aware of the facts and knows what she’s getting in for. Doesn’t that make her better off than someone whose marriage is just as short but ends because her husband cheats on her or beats her? To me, a wedding is about hope and joy. Whether they have 50 years or 50 days together, they have decided the time they spend together and married is worth it. Don’t think about what’s to come; think about what they have and how glad they are to have each other, no matter how short a time that’s for. They have each other and they have love. That’s worth celebrating.

(OK, so I’m a romantic fool.)

As pointed out by others in this thread, it may not even be a religious thing. An ex-GF’s mother married her live-in partner of ten years shortly after they found out he had cancer. They wanted to be a married couple in the little time they had left.

The poor woman lost her husband, daughter, and dog within 10 years. Sad.

I’ve witnessed a couple of deathbed marriages in hospital.
Often it is people who have been living together for a long time, usually previously married, to whom the “piece of paper” was never really important until they realised it would allow the surviving spouse a lot of legal and financial help that would otherwise be unavailable.

Really, really sad, but honestly, if they really love each other, everyone can find some joy in the occasion. One of my patients died less than 24 hours after his wedding, and it was, in his own words, still the happiest day of his life.

Some people do not deal well with the news of a terminal diagnosis. Some really do go into denial, while some truly understand, but act as if they don’t, so as not to take the hope away from their partner.

You don’t know whether this girl is really in denial, pretending to be in denial for her partner’s sake, or desperately trying to find something to focus on and look forward to in an ocean of grief and loss. It’s pretty harsh to judge any of those things.

It’s not for you, it’s for them, so you suck it up, drink your sparkling apple juice, smile for the camera and try to catch the bouquet.

I don’t know anything about the legal issues involved in marrying someone in his position, but they could still have a wedding ceremony even if they didn’t want to get legally married.
I am very much in favor of having a big party or doing anything else that gives him something to look forward to in whatever time he has left.
It’s sad that cancer is getting in the way of the wedding and marriage he planned on, but it would be far sadder if he canceled all his plans for the future for the sake of wallowing in misery over his impending death.

If he had cancer when they met, I’m sure she has thought about the possibility he won’t be around as long as she would like. I’m sure he knows he’s dying. You’ll die someday too. So will I. The only difference is that you and I don’t know when it’s coming. Might as well try to enjoy the time you have left no matter how long it is.

Love shines brightest in the dark. I hope they have a good life together, however brief it may be.

What does she consider a fairytale wedding? Church, white gown, hundreds of guests, reception with a DJ and catered roast beef/chicken? Or is she grounded in some reality and is thinking of a simple ceremony in the hospital?

I don’t have a problem with them getting married, but if she’s under the impression that his illness is just a temporary thing, that he’ll get better soon and they’ll live happily ever after…then I suggest the doctor have a heart to heart with her. Otherwise she is going to completely fall apart.

This moment is the only time there is. Right now, they are in love. Right now, they have one another. That’s all that really matters. Why wouldn’t that be a joyous occasion?

It should be a joyous occasion, but it seems Lisa, who is planning a honeymoon, is in serious denial about her fiance’s health.

There’s making the best of a situation, and then there’s refusing to see the reality of the situation.

Well I obviously don’t know the couple in question, but I’m not convinced getting carried away in wedding plans and planning for the future is denial, necessarily. It’s hard to tell by the OP, though if it’s unlikely he’s going to make it to August it would make more sense (and suggest a connection to reality) if they set the wedding date sooner. I guess I interpreted ‘‘it’s awkward’’ as referring to the impending death and not the bride’s denial. Shit, if the man I was madly in love with was dying, I’d probably want to shelter myself in denial too.

However, I’d like to think if I were dying, or if my spouse were dying, I’d just want things to go on as always. But I’m not one of those ‘‘I’m dying therefore I have to start really living’’ people. I’m already living life to its fullest. So there’s nothing inherently sad or awkward in a dying man planning his wedding. This was my only point.

Aww thats so sad to hear. My friend got married to a man who had been fighting a brain tumour for around 10 years. They had the most beautiful wedding and exactly one month to the day of their wedding he died. Five weeks after their wedding he was buried. They never got the honeymoon that they always wanted. Sometimes I think people need to carry around a little denial just to get through. I sincerly hope that your friend gets her wedding and honeymoon, I dont think Id cope if I couldnt marry the love of my life before they died.

That’s a lovely attitude, and one that everyone around the couple may as well take.

The nasty, cynical part of my soul does wonder about the mental health of someone who gets deeply emotionally involved with someone who, AT THE TIME THEY MEET, is already diagnosed with terminal illness. Maybe I’m not romantic enough, but … back in my dating days, certain people I regarded as simply “off limits” from a romantic perspective. Lucky for me I didn’t know anyone terminally ill, but something as simple as “best friends with a recent boyfriend” would cause me to understand that a romantic relationship with someone was a lousy idea. Likewise, I suspect that if I had met someone terminally ill, I would have understood from Day One that I could respect/admire/adore/become as intellectually and emotionally intertwined as the situation permitted, but planning a long life together would have to wait until there were appropriate health signals, such as a remission or better yet being declared “cancer free.”

It is a cruel thing to say, no getting around it, but some people do get off on the “martyr” role: “oh, poor dear, isn’t she a saint … she loves him so much, and he’s going to die … she is so kind, poor thing …” Where self-esteem is lacking, this is precisely the kind of role that can fulfill certain people. (I had an aunt like that, so I know what I’m talking about.)

I have no idea if this applies to the woman in question, and if I could stop with Siege’s kind thoughts, I’m sure I’d be a more worthy individual.

The first part, and that is weird thing - it is a very nice formal wedding, nothing simple at all. She had her wedding shower last weekend, and is registered for all sorts of “future life together” things.

I think deep down she knows what is going on, but seems to be in denial to me. A few months ago we saw them and they mentioned coming down to see us sometime (we live about 300 miles apart) for a weekend. Lisa mentioned to my gf at her shower last weekend about coming down in the fall after the wedding. That sounds like huge denial to me.