>> Friday, December 4, 2009
Shakespeare gave me two award-winning ideas and so we're trying the second one, now. There was actually more interaction on the first idea than I expected, so I'm off on idea number two. Her idea, verbatim, was...
Do a "What Would You Do When..." blog... and tell us what to do when something unusual happens: winning the lottery, surviving nuclear disaster, getting lost in the woods, crashing our vehicle, having a heart attack, filing for divorce, losing the family pet, planning our own funeral, etc. It all sounds depressing, but it doesn't have to be, and you know how to think outside nearly every established social box there is...Well, of course, the temptation is to do something cool, the kind of thing one daydreams about, but that didn't sit right for me for a first one, so I'm going go down a logical path, given that I'm the oldest person in my household (by at least fifteen years), overweight, etc.
So, what would happen if I discovered I were going to die, say from some sort of disease?
First, let me say, it's easy, in the comfort of my current health, to speculate and assume I'd handle everything stoically. In truth, however, no one really knows how they'd react to something like this (or, in fact, one of their daydreams) - or so I assume. The best I can do is speculate.
So, now that we're clear this is speculation, let me, um, speculate.
My first reaction would probably be shock. I'm forty-two, I have small children and a husband I'd really like to live a full life with. And I'm not terribly fond of pain. I don't know many diseases that don't involve a substantial quantity of pain.
I'd like to think the second order of business once I came to grips with the notion of dying is what can I do to best protect my family. What are my options, if any, to avoid death, and do they put my family's well-being at risk. If trying to buy me an extra six months of life is going to sacrifice any chance my children have for college or put my husband in debt for the rest of his life, I'd rather not.
Truth is, I'm not particularly worried about the dying part. I would like to live longer, but death doesn't frighten me much. So, if I'm going to go, what I'm really worried about is leaving my family in the best possible state.
That means working until the end, if possible. I have excellent life and health insurance with work and, if I can keep working, my family can take advantage of them. If the end is inevitable, better not to waste precious resources on treatments to prolong the discomfort at my family's expense. I'd update my will, explain the situation to my children (in detail proportionate to their age and ability to understand), do what I could to arrange as many details for after I was gone as I could so that a grieving family won't have additional heart-wrenching details to worry about. It's OK. I'm not particularly sentimental.
And, if I start to feel sorry for myself (and it will happen), I can remember how lucky I am not to be having to do all this for one of my children or my husband instead of myself. As hard as dying would be, it would be better than losing a child.
I'd contact family members outside my household and make sure my husband and children have a support network. I'd work with my husband to devise a post-death strategy to help him with education so he could take care of our children most effectively. If possible, I'd take care of selling the house, etc.
And then I'd do everything I could to enjoy the time I had remaining with the people I love most in all the world. I'd treasure each of my baby's giggles, each flash of my son's dimples, each sarcastic comeback from my teenager, each embrace from my husband.
I'm a very lucky woman to be loved, to have people with me I love so much. I can't imagine a better way to go than in their company.