In the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege of being asked by two wonderful friends to sign as a witness on their Living Will/DNR orders.
Why a privilege?
Both of these people are amazing human beings. One is my BFF of the past ~14 years, the other a very close coworker/friend I’ve known for a few years. Both trusted me enough to included me in their very difficult, very personal decision.
Like me, both have cancer.
One is terminal and doesn’t have much longer.
The other was just diagnosed and has recently gone through two surgeries to fight it.
Both have very different types of cancer and both are very complex, young, caring, beautiful, wonderful people. The world is a much better place with both of them in it.
Sometimes that’s just not how life is. We all face the same outcome from life. Whether we are rich or poor; famous or forgettable; saints or sinners – life always ends the same for all of us. With death.
Most people don’t want to talk about death. Or think about it. Or acknowledge it.
Some of us though have been staring it down for years.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, it’s going to get you.
I have another friend who is much older than these friends (twice as old) and has been through two cancers. Now he’s facing another one. He too is an amazing person who has a very amazing life story and is a wonderful person. He doesn’t want to talk about the cancer. Doesn’t want to face death. Doesn’t want to acknowledge it and won’t talk about it.
I understand that too. But honestly, you owe it to your family to talk about these things!
Do you want to be an organ donor (if you can)?
(please consider it!!)
Do you want to donate your body to science?
Do you want to be kept alive at all costs or not?
Do you want to be cremated or have a funeral?
Where are the important papers (taxes, certificates, wills, insurance)?
Even if you don’t have cancer, there are people killed unexpectedly every day.
Talk about it with your family.
Another note: there are those of us who aren’t afraid of death or talking about it. Some people just need to be understood and have their wishes respected. Even if death is something YOU are not comfortable talking about – if someone who has a terrible diagnosis or is terminal needs to talk it out with you, please listen. It doesn’t mean that person is suicidal – it means they need understanding and compassion.
Friends and family, if your friend or loved one is terminal, or if they have a DNR, or have told you they do not want anymore treatment, etc . . . Please have the compassion to uphold their wishes.
They HAVE been fighting. They HAVE been brave. They have been through so much pain and suffering (much of which they have kept hidden from everyone – including you) that they just can’t take anymore. You telling them they need to keep fighting will not change the outcome but will make their last days so much more horrible. Please, follow their wishes – for them!
that is love