Monday, January 18, 2010


We have a couple of friends who have just been told they only have a few months to live. Sure gives you pause for thought. What would you do if you were given such news?

Would you carry on, assuming you are physically able, business as usual, or would you spend the time with family and close friends and get your affairs in order? Would you travel? Would you say “yes” to some experimental treatment that might buy you a few months, but make you sick? Or would you cocoon yourself, and cut yourself off from everyone?

Over the years I have sadly had other friends who faced a similar prognosis and each dealt with it in her own way. It’s hard to know, and as friends standing on the outside looking in, it’s hard to know what to do to help, to lessen the load and make this last journey more bearable for all involved.

What I do know is you have to take your cues from the person dying, and respect their wishes, which can be hard if he chooses to cut himself off from everyone. So while you maybe can’t help the individual, you can support the family.

I know when I was going through chemo, one of the best things someone did for me, was cook meals. In fact, the children so enjoyed her meals, they wondered if she did breakfasts!

I remember one friend who was estranged from her son. So he did not know she was dying and had only a few weeks left. I persuaded her to let him know, because there was unfinished business between them and I felt he needed the opportunity to say his goodbyes. He never came. I don’t regret getting her to reach out but I learned that we can never predict how other people will behave and we can only take responsibility for our own actions.

So what would you do? It’s hard to know until we get there, but why wait. Life is precious. Don’t take it for granted. If you have always wanted to travel – do it. Tell those you love how you feel about them. Don’t wait until you have a terminal prognosis to live your life. Do it now because none of us really know what tomorrow will bring.

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