Skip to main content

Death and Dying: What If You Found Out Today That You Have Only A Few Months To Live?

As a psychology major at the University of North Texas, C. E. Clark found, and continues to find psychology endlessly fascinating.

Can you imagine what it would be like to hear your doctor deliver a death sentence to you? Things are going well, you may have had a little odd pain and you decided to have it checked out when it hung on and would not go away. A few days later your doctor’s office calls and tells you to come for the results of your tests.

You may be expecting to hear you need to change your diet, or exercise more, or stop engaging in some activity for a while, but instead, your doctor says, “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this Mary, but you have cancer, and it’s in a fairly advanced stage. There are some things we can do that may extend the time you have, but quite honestly, you might want to think about getting your affairs in order.”

Death Is a Part of Life

Learn to accept that one day you will die so that you can help other people when they are told their time is near.

Learn to accept that one day you will die so that you can help other people when they are told their time is near.

All about dying from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

All about dying from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

At first, disbelief . . .

You, thinking you didn’t hear right: “Excuse me, but what did you say?”

Your doctor repeats her words again and you are trying to comprehend them. It is as if you are in a bad dream, yet everything seems so real. Perhaps surreal would better describe it. You try to ask pertinent questions while all the time your head is spinning and you think surely there must be some mistake.

Doc: “No mistake, Mary. I double-checked the test results myself to make sure. I wouldn’t want to deliver news like this mistakenly.”

You: “How much time do you think I have, Doc?”

Doc: “Being optimistic, maybe 6 months, barring a miracle, but I will be honest, I haven’t seen many miracles with cases like yours.

What would you do next?

The situation may seem surreal and confusing . . .

You leave your doctor’s office and when you get inside your car you just sit for a while, trying to sort your thoughts and figure out what to do next. Then you reach for your cell phone and call your best friend. “Jane,” you say in a very serious voice, “I need to talk to you. I’ve just got some really bad news and I need someone to listen.”

Your friend Jane has known you for a long time and notes the serious tone in your voice immediately. She knows something is very wrong. “What is it Mary? Tell me what’s happened,” she tells you.

“Jane, I’ve just left my doctor’s office. You remember me telling you about some tests I had run, and today I got the results back.” Here you hesitate for a few moments, not knowing how to say it, not quite ready to believe yourself what you’re about to tell your friend. Jane urges you to continue.

“Jane, the doctor said I have late stage ovarian cancer and there’s not much she can do to make it better. She, she said I have maybe 6 months to live,” you stumble through the words.

Jane hears your words and suddenly does not know what to say to news like that. “Maybe they made a mistake on your tests. Maybe they got them mixed up with somebody else’s. I’m sure that can’t be true, Mary. I’ve known you for a long time and you look so healthy. I wouldn’t worry about something like that if I were you. Just get a second opinion. I’m sure everything is going to be just fine. I’m in the middle of something and I really can’t talk for long. Get a second opinion, Mary, before you get all upset about it. OK? I have to go, but we can talk about this more later, OK?” And with that, Jane hangs up the phone.

You feel isolated and alone . . .

Over the next few hours that turn into days, you find you have never been more lonely in your life. No one, but no one, will talk to you about this latest development in your life. Everyone makes light of it if you mention it, and you notice that people seem to always be in a hurry, and do not have the time to talk like they used to. It is almost as if you have a communicable disease.

On those rare occasions when you have a captive audience, your companion will say something like, “Oh Mary, let’s not talk about that right now. Let’s be optimistic. Let’s hope for the best.” And then they change the subject.

As time gets shorter you find yourself more often alone in various treatment facilities. People stop to visit for a few minutes, but do not stay very long. While they are willing to discuss whether or not you are comfortable and how well you are managing the treatment, they do not want to discuss anything having to do with, or even hinting about, death or dying.

There are things you want to say to the people you care about, to let them know how much they mean to you, but they pooh-pooh your words and change the subject. They do not seem to realize how serious and important it is to you to convey these feelings.

Scroll to Continue

Taboo Subjects

For some reason, there are certain subjects many people do not feel comfortable thinking about, much less talking about -- subjects that affect everyone, and usually profoundly.

You may think that regular attendance at church or believing in the hereafter is all one needs to get through a situation like this, but once you are yourself in a similar situation, I think you will find that a friend or relative who will allow you to voice your feelings about what you are facing would be a great added comfort.

Preparing To Die

Most people prepare for major milestones and changes in their lives. Leaving home and going off to college, getting married, getting divorced, accepting a job thousands of miles away from the place you’ve always known as home and leaving everything you know, getting ready for a new baby.

When you know in advance that you are going to die, how you are likely to die, and approximately when you are going to die, there is emotional preparation you will need to do in order to get through the waiting period, and to be ready when that final moment comes.

When you know that you are going to die and approximately when, you have the advantage of being able to say good-bye to loved ones, of being able to put your affairs in order, of being able to try at least to make up for wrongs you may have committed and that you have been putting off dealing with. People who die unexpectedly do not have these luxuries. If no one will let you talk about these things, it will only make your passing more difficult. Talking with important people in your life will help you prepare to face what you must, if they will allow you that comfort.

Like it or not, death is a part of every life.

Thinking about death is not morbid. It is being practical. Not wishing for death or obsessing about it, but thinking about it much as you would think about planning any other major event in your life.

One difference between planning your career or your lifestyle, and preparing for the time when you will not be here anymore, is that your death is definite. It will happen. It happens to all living things eventually. You may change your mind about your career several times over your life, but death is a certainty.

Be positive and pragmatic about your death. Plan how you are going to use every minute in the meantime, to live. Let it be your reason to stop procrastinating and to do the things you want and need to do. Let it be your reason for not wasting the precious time you have, because that time is limited. It is also valuable. Once spent, it is gone forever.

Use your time wisely to help other people and to enjoy the opportunities this world has to offer. Keep in mind that when you move on, you’ll be taking with you exactly what you came with -- nothing but your spirit and your soul. The knowledge and memory of experiences you have gained in this world are yours, but no material acquisitions will go with you.

Come to terms with your own mortality and then reach out to someone in need

Once you have come to terms with your own inevitable death, think about how you can help someone else in your life who may be facing imminent death. Do you have a friend, coworker, or relative with a terminal disease? Let them know that you are willing to listen. Often that is all dying people need and want -- just someone to listen, someone who can validate his or her feelings and offer some compassion.

Imagine if you were told that you were going to die and that you had only 3 months to live. How would you feel? What would be your concerns? Your fears? Is there anyone in your life you could talk to about these things? Or would you find yourself emotionally isolated like so many dying people do, because death is a taboo subject in our society? Be the first person to help change this situation.

On Death and Dying

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross did extensive research on death and dying. Many people are familiar with her 5 Stages of Grief. When facing a serious loss, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a job, a limb, one’s own life, or any number of other serious losses people may experience, most people do go through the Stages of Grief outlined by Ms. Kubler-Ross. Everyone who has suffered a loss, and anyone who is dying, may not go through the stages described by Ms. Kubler-Ross in order, and may not progress through them smoothly, but they do almost without exception, experience the stages of grief Ms. Kubler-Ross has identified through her research, interviews, and observation of hundreds of dying subjects.

For anyone wanting to become more comfortable with the subject of death and dying, either for their own peace of mind, or to be of comfort to someone else who is having to deal with a terminal illness, I recommend Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have To Teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families.

Not thinking or talking about death will not prevent it. You can prolong your life through healthful safe living, but you cannot prevent death forever. Be a comfort to someone who knows their time is very short. Help them make peace with what they cannot change. Find a way to make peace with death yourself.


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on August 22, 2015:

Peggy W., Thank you for commenting on and sharing this article. What you say is so true, and if we can get past that taboo or fear of the inevitable, perhaps we can be a comfort to those who need someone to talk to about this subject.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 21, 2015:

This is such an important topic and since death (just like birth) is an integral part of life it should never be considered taboo. All of us like it or not will face the ending of this life and for those of us who believe in an is the beginning of another one. It is actually nice to think of seeing loved ones once again and can be a comfort for those who believe. Sharing this once again.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 15, 2015:

Kiss and Tales, thank you again for your continued interest in the article.

Kiss andTales on February 13, 2015:

You are so right no one really wants to be alone, even though this is happening, we all have to agree we need the cure for all diseases ,and ailments ,and old age, the world as we know it strives to produce but not at the right time or there is a terrible expense involved.

I shared the most powerful hope we have. And that is there will come a time real soon when no one will say I am sick , we know this has not happen yet because we all are in pain of something ,even if it is stress.

Notice !

Reference Bible Isa 33:24 And no resident will say: “I am sick.” The people that are dwelling in [the land] will be those pardoned for their error.

In the last book of the Bible ,Revelations speaks of the finally of this old world ,walking into a new one,

Reference Bible Re 21:4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

Aufait this is our hope and cure. Just as Jesus demonstrated what he will do on a grand scale when he came to earth. He will do for us as well.

Death is sad but it is not the end of our situation.

Remember Bible Mt 19:26 Looking them in the face, Jesus said to them: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Also remember that it is impossible for God to lie.

Reference Bible Heb 6:18 in order that, through two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to the refuge may have strong encouragement to lay hold on the hope set before us.

This hope has been paid for.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 13, 2015:

Kiss and Tales, thank you for your continued interest in this subject and for taking so much of your time to explain and express your thoughts. Yes, if we can just be there and open to whatever people who have received a terminal diagnoses want to discuss we will be offering all we can. They must face their future themselves and we are all ultimately alone, but knowing someone is there and cares can be such a help for many people.

Kiss andTales on February 12, 2015:

Aufait you are a warm compassionate person a gift from God you share with many who are faced with many trials and tribulations of this subject Death.

We can be a comfort by being by their side in a time of distress, some times we will go through pain alone ,Jesus went through pain and mental agony alone also Notice.

New World Translation Lu 22:43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

Reference Bible Lu 22:44 But getting into an agony he continued praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.

Notice even the angel attempted to strengthen Jesus ,but he kept praying in agony of what was ahead, he would experience death .

Even Jesus was faced with the same situation.

But also knowing what he was facing he knew that the Heavenly Father would not leave him in the grave.

Notice the scripture New World Translation 1Co 15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.

To our Heavenly Father we are just sleep until he returns our life force back. Many will return .

Joh 5:28 Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice , Joh 5:29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.

Notice again, Re 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. The dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.

Here our loved ones have returned and are being judge out of new scrolls or a new book.

Yes death is a sad thing and true man does not have the power to return life, but our Heavenly Father and Jesus does.

New World Translation Re 1:18 and the living one, and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of the Grave.

Yes we all will be stressed but we also know that death has been conquered !

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 12, 2015:

Kiss and Tales, thank you for taking so much time to write about your thoughts on this subject. The main problem is that so many people don't feel comfortable thinking or talking about death and so when someone is given a terminal diagnosis they have no one they can discuss their concerns with. They are isolated emotionally and must figure it out alone. No one should have to face death alone and lonely, and no 17-year old person should have to be the one who delivers the bad news to a loved one because the adults all around don't have the courage and fortitude.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 10, 2015:

Blackspaniel1, thank you for commenting on this article. I'm sure it varies according to the individual(s) involved, their age, what's going on in their lives at the time, etc. Most people don't like to talk about death, which is the underlying issue of this article, and so those people who feel that way would seem to fear death. If someone fears death receiving a terminal diagnoses is likely to be very hard for them.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 09, 2015:

Marilyn (MDavisatTIERS), thank you for reading and sharing your experience with me and my readers in your comment. My main point is that death is a far too taboo subject and that many people need someone to talk to when they get that diagnosis, but no one will oblige them because they are just too uncomfortable with the subject.

I'm so glad you survived your diagnosis. I see you are doing good things in the world too, so it isn't just a third chance for you, but second (or 3rd) chances for other people too.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 07, 2015:

Peggy W, thank you for stopping by and tweeting/sharing this article! I really think death should be easier to talk about since we all face it and never know for sure when it will come knocking on the door. Yes, I think I know more dead people than live ones these days too. :)

Kiss andTales on February 05, 2015:

Death is a subject we all are face with.

It is present in our genes .

If life is taken, or for some unforeseen happening, death can happen.

Death was not supposed to be our end or outcome ,But the sentence that was passed on to Adam and Eve for their betrayal and actions ,effected us all.

Here's why.

Reference Bible Ro 5:12 That is why, just as through one man (Adam ) sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.

What this means as an example ,Say you are going make a special cake ,And your cake pan falls and is dented, will you throw it away ? or will you still make cakes even though this pan has a major dent in it ?

Let's say you decided that this would not stop you from creating this wonderful cake you always wanted to make with a special recipe.

Also you are aware that when your cake is done it will have an imperfection a dent. But you have thought it all out , and planed a way to remove that imperfection before you decide to proceed in making cakes from this pan.

All humans have this situation.

Adam and Eve are the original cake pan that willfully defected, and every human born from them have inherited defected genes that results in death.

The Heavenly Father worked out a perfect plan to save the offspring of Adam and Eve from dying eternally.

He worked out a cure that will be applied to all who come to know him, and his son ,Jesus paid for our cure with his human life.

There is proof of scriptures that clearly lets us know we were suppose to live longer then trees and animals, remember Adam was in charge of caring for them all. That means if a tree or animal live many years Adam was to be present and care for them.

Reference Bible Ge 1:29 And God went on to say: “Here I have given to YOU all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To YOU let it serve as food.

Reference Bible Ge 1:30 And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so.

If he dies first how can care for them.

But notice he was to out live these.

American Standard Version Ec 3:11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.

Did you Notice he set eternity in the hearts of men, that is to live forever.

history and research witness how long plants ,animals, even humans can live.

Plants, 1. Examples

Ancient Bristlecone Pines".5064 years in existence.

Methuselah is a 4,846-year-old[1] Great Basin bristlecone pine

80,000-year-old Quaking Aspen

the 9,500-year-old Norway spruce

Animals 2 . Examples

Ocean Quohog – 507 years old

Bowhead Whales

Oldest Living Mammals on Earth – 211 years old

“Hanako” the Koi Fish – 226 years old

Adwaita, a giant tortoise, may have lived over

250 years.

Xestospongia muta has been called the "redwood of the reef" because of its lifespan of up to 2000 years as well as its size and colour

Humans 3. Examples

The oldest living human was Jeanne Calment from France, who died at the age of 122 years.

Jiroemon Kimura (木村 次郎右衛門 Kimura Jirōemon?, April 19, 1897 – June 12, 2013) was a Japanese supercentenarian. 116 years of age.

Misao Okawa (大川 ミサヲ Ōkawa Misao?, sometimes romanized as Misawo Okawa; born March 5, 1898)[1] is a Japanese supercentenarian. She is still living.

What is the future for humans to live a long life in the future. It is written !

Reference Bible Ps 37:29 The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.

Mt 25:46 " but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”

Reference Bible Ps 37:34 Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, And he will exalt you to take possession of the earth.

What if death has happened? Notice !

Reference Bible Joh 5:28 Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice

Reference Bible Joh 5:29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.

Even if we should die the price has been paid to return. But not to this unclean world, those that return will come back to a cleaned up earth. Rather physically or mentally.

The conclusion is death is not the end of the our case as written .

We have plenty of work ahead of us in preparing the earth for the return of many .

Welcoming back our loved ones to a newly cleansed earth.

We have the heavenly Fathers promise

Reference Bible 2Pe 3:13 But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.

Yes death is a sad thing. Even Jesus cried over his close friend Lazarus ,

Reference Bible Joh 11:35 Jesus gave way to tears.

1Co 15:26 And the last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing.

Many may not taste death at all because Jesus tasted death for many.

That is another benefit we can be happy for.

Blackspaniel1 on February 05, 2015:

I would think it is harder on the friend than the person who got the news. I may be wrong, but it is what I believe.

Marilyn L Davis from Georgia on February 05, 2015:

Good afternoon, Au fait; excellent Hub and presented well. I was driving the other day and fatalities on the road were on the news. I thought then how much we take for granted that we will have a tomorrow.

When my cancer was diagnosed at 19, I went through a tremendous amount of self-pity. I survived and was not grateful for my second chance. Recovery may give some people second chances, I consider it my third.

So, I try to live each day as if it will be my last, to the best of my ability and from love rather than anger and fear. Since I have not discovered my expiration date written anywhere, I'll live today and be appreciative of the blessings, such as your reminder. ~Marilyn

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 05, 2015:

That friend I mentioned did die followed not long after by her husband who also had cancer. It is nice to think of them being together again in the next life.

Death should not be a taboo subject since we all eventually die. At my age I have lost many loved ones...relatives and friends. Sharing this once again and giving it another tweet.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 28, 2013:

ceebee, thank you for stopping by and reading/commenting on this article. I wrote it in hopes of getting people to think about making themselves more available and open to people who may need someone to talk to about their impending death. You are indeed fortunate not to have experienced the death of someone close to you. Having a strong faith in God and trust in what He says about death can be a great comfort.

ceebee on September 26, 2013:

I really enjoyed your article. As I get older, I do think about the day when I too will leave this earth. I don't fear dying, but I do think about the eternity of death. My faith in God gives me comfort. However, your article, makes me determine to be the listening ear to those who need it. Fortunately, I have not yet experience the death of a close friend or family and I celebrate it. My heart goes out to those who have experience loss.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 22, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for pinning and adding a link to this hub!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 19, 2013:

I just added a link from this hub to mine titled Living Wills...Control your own destiny! Also pinning to my Health related subjects board.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 07, 2013:

Vandynegl, thank you for sharing your common sense with us. I think it is important to have one's affairs in order and I hope you will discuss your wishes with your doctor as well so that there is no misunderstanding in the event of a traumatic event. I think everyone should have their situations handled the way they want in as much as that's possible, regardless of how the situation comes about, suddenly and unexpected, or as expected.

I really appreciate your coming back to share your thoughts and experience with this issue, and I'm glad too, that you have found some peace of mind AND developed a determination to live in the present. That is all we really have. The past is a memory and the future may never happen . . .

Your children are very fortunate that you have thought about them and made plans to ease their pain when you won't be there to do it anymore.

I agree with your thoughts on spirituality. My mother read her Bible everyday and took strength from Christ everyday. I have counseled other people to develop a personal relationship with God. There is nothing in this world that can compare with the feeling of being surrounded with His love -- not even chocolate or s-e-x.

I'm sorry to hear you have had to deal with the deaths of so many people recently. Letting go of the people you love can be the hardest thing in the world. Your time and the people you love are the most precious things you have so use the one wisely and cherish the other.

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on July 07, 2013:

Hi again Au fait,

You brought up a very important point in your response.....having your affairs in order! This is true whether you know you are going to die or you get in an automobile accident tomorrow.

My family and I have been through more death in the past 4 years than ever. We lost 3 extremely close people in our lives.....2 of them were sudden, with no preparation. Their deaths taught me to be prepared, as much as we don't want to think about it. I now have a Will, a Living Will, and 2 Life Insurance policies (one only for my children). It gives me peace of mind to know that my family won't have to struggle to make decisions or go through stress of not being able to afford a funeral, etc. It also is good to know that my kids will have some kind of financial help.

After dealing with these deaths, I became so obsessed with being prepared and being as "preventative" as possible, that I stopped living in the present. Ironic. That is when I made sure things were "in order" and I have been trying to live in the moment since, enjoying those most precious to me. My new goal is to become more spiritual. I find this area to be incredibly helpful in all aspects of our lives. It seems that spirituality is what gives people that extra strength.

On another note, I admire your mother's courage. I'd like to see more "fighters" out there!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 07, 2013:

Thank you for commenting and voting on and sharing/pinning this hub, Shyron. Most important is for people to be available and open to listening to people who need help working through their new state of affairs. It is a good idea I think, to discuss one's wishes with their doctor so that things will be handled the way they want if that should ever be necessary.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 06, 2013:

This is a very good hub and get one to think about what they would want. Voted up, UAI, shared and Pinned.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 06, 2013:

Thank you vandynegl, for sharing your thoughts and beliefs on this subject. While I do not entirely agree, I do respect your feelings in this matter. There are some things I do agree with you on, such as mind over matter, and the different ways (positive vs negative) that health workers can deliver a diagnosis.

Some people are better at coping with difficult situations than others. I am a person who likes to know the truth even if it hurts. I don't think other people should assume they know what is best for me better than I know myself. If the doc isn't going to tell me his truthful opinion, then he needs to give me a huge discount, because his opinion is what I'm paying for. I do agree that he could/should, just as a matter of policy, deliver his opinion in the most positive possible way, although for myself, that really doesn't matter. But for other people, as you have pointed out, it does matter.

My mother didn't expect to be given just 3 months to live and my telling her the truth did not cause her to give up and die. She actually lived 2 weeks short of a year, rather than just the 3 months she was given. Doctors were amazed because her cancer was so extensive. She went through 3 more surgeries and heart failure before succumbing. Her doctors said they believed she lasted as long as she did out of pure determination. So what you have said about mind over matter would certainly seem to have made a difference with my mother. I remember how determined she was to beat the cancer, and she did for a lot longer than anyone expected.

For anyone to take it upon themselves to decide what is best for me without consulting me -- deciding for example, not to tell me if I have extensive cancer all through my body and very little time left, I think that would be extremely high handed and arrogant on their part.

Not allowing me time to say good-bye to people or tell them things I might want to tell them. Not allowing me to use MY TIME my way instead of their way. I don't think anyone has the right to decide what is the best way for me to spend my last days. That should be my decision.

I'm sorry for those people who can't deal with reality, but I'm not one of them, and I resent anyone making decisions for me just because a handful of people have trouble making decisions and dealing with reality. I don't think it makes sense to treat millions of people all exactly the same way because a couple hundred people require special handling.

No one has power over your mind unless you grant it to them. You mentioned mind over matter and it applies in this situation too. If your doctor says s/he believes you have only a few months to live based on his/her experience with patients who had similar conditions, make up your mind as my mother did, that you are going to prove them wrong. If you can utilize your mind's power in other situations, why not this one?

You have yourself described people who went on to live long past their diagnosis. Why would you throw up your hands and give up if your doc were to give you bad news, if you know the power of your mind can make all the difference, and you know of examples where that was true?

My mother's knowing her diagnosis didn't make her give up, it made her try harder and gave her more determination to win the fight. She might not have engaged her mind to take control had she not known the true stakes involved.

Not everyone is the same nor does everyone react the same way to everything. If you do not want to know in the event that your doctor has a terminal diagnosis for you at some point in the future, I recommend you let your doctor know in advance so s/he will know how you want things handled. You might also put your wishes in a living will. I would advice everyone to do these same things.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 06, 2013:

fpherj48, thank you Paula, for stopping by and leaving a comment, and for voting on this hub. Agree that as much as possible we should do exactly as you say, live each day as though it were our last, because one just never knows for sure that it isn't! A person can never be sure when there may be a truck or a train lurking around out there with their name on it . . .

However, the message of this hub was to encourage people to be open and available to people who have received a diagnosis for terminal illness and who have been told they have very little time left to live. It's generally a shock to most people.

So many people are uncomfortable with the subject of death and as a result they are useless to people who need someone to listen. People who are no doubt confused, possibly scared, and who don't know where to turn because everyone is putting a happy face on it, "Oh, I'm sure everything is going to work out just fine Auntie and who knows? They may even discover a cure. Let's try to look at the positive side OK?"

My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was 17. She was given 3 months to live, but no one, not even her doctor, would tell her. Finally she asked me if I knew what was wrong with her. She knew I wouldn't lie. I have a thing about lying and always have. It was left to me at the great age of 17 to tell my mother that she had cancer and wasn't expected to last longer than 3 months. Because the adults all around me couldn't bring themselves to talk about death they had to rely on me, a 17 year old girl. to meet their responsibility for them.

It was worse even than what I have written here, not so much for me, but for my mother and after all I did, people around me still pretended I was too young to understand. Even though I was the adult in this situation.

The thing is that those people who want to know have a right to know what their diagnosis is. Everyone should have someone they can talk to in times of high stress, even about death. I was that someone for my mother. I have always been straight forward and to the point. I have no problem talking about death or a number of other sensitive issues. I studied death in gerontology class and did my best in class projects to get people past their irrational attitude about it.

Growing up on a farm, death is a common occurrence, though usually among the animals, but death came to many of my great uncles and aunts and grandparents too. The idea that one can somehow avoid death by not talking about it is worse than superstition. No one avoids death forever.

So again, the message of this hub is not how does a person deal with the news that their days are specifically numbered, but rather how can the rest of us be helpful to those people in our lives who may be struggling to accept their fate.

Be sure to look both ways before crossing the street, and never argue with a large vehicle even if it is wrong. Right or wrong, it will win the argument. ;)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 05, 2013:

Cantuhearmescream; Cat, thank you for sharing your thoughts and this hub too!

Time and maturity is often what is needed and that takes time. Dah. It's not a shortcoming of any kind, it just takes time to become accepting of things sometimes, even when we really don't have a choice. Making peace with the inevitable I guess. Finding a way you can accept what will eventually come on your own terms.

Things do look different as we get older and I'm sure you know that. Things that were so important when we were in our teens we eventually wonder why they mattered so much. Perspective makes such a difference. Learning about life makes a difference and discovering what you really believe and what really matters. All of that takes time. Other people's answers just don't matter so much as time goes on, but your own that you have found for yourself will.

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on June 29, 2013:

Hi Au fait, I felt tempted to read this because it is an area of my life that I have issues with.

You've written a good article and reaching out to others in need is great advice; however, I can't help but complain about our current medical system and the way they get to have so much "power" over "how much time we have."

I can think of so many stories of people who have been "told" they only have X months to live and immediately their hope diminishes. As a result, they even die sooner.

I am currently reading a book that explains the power of the mind when it comes to illnesses and how doctors should not give those kinds of statements to patients, even if they ask. Although some people may argue that it is "sugar-coating" the problem or not being "realistic," the fact is, everyone's body is different.

On the flip side, when you are told that you have a serious illness, you should be able to take it in your own hands with your doctor's help. Even if the medical professional sees it as terminal, these "words" shouldn't be spoken. "Do No Harm" is part of the oath that doctors take. Realistically, they ARE doing harm by saying, "Hey, you've got a few months left." Often, it is the positive versus the negative phrases that can make all of the difference.

My grandfather has a nasty cancer, but I forced my mother to tell the nurses and doctors to NOT disclose how much "time" he may have. What's the use? Instead, enjoy whatever time you have left on your OWN terms.

Another story: a family we know found out their grandmother had cancer. In reality, with "treatment" she may have made it 6 months to a year. What this family decided to do was NOT tell their grandmother what her illness was. The result? She lived 8 more years.

Sorry, I'm rambling! I just get irked sometimes by the power that some doctors have.

Regardless, whether someone is sick or not, we should all enjoy our moments here on earth. I could get in a horrible accident tomorrow. We never know. I'd rather NOT know my "prognosis."

Suzie from Carson City on June 29, 2013:

Au fait......awww, I see the comment from "Dusty" (50 caliber), Rest his precious soul....and recently read some from him, on my own hubs......

There's a simple way, I think, for all of us to do the best we can, in terms of your hub topic.....Maybe....just maybe, we should try to live, as if each day, may be our last? Just supposing.........


Cat from New York on June 28, 2013:

Au fait,

Well, this is a start! :D Maybe I'm a little less comfortable with the idea of death than I thought... I can't help to get knots in my stomach even reading the reality of it. Your example of finding out you're dying, from your doctor really hit me. It's not the first time I've thought about it, but it's something I contemplate; to know or not to know. Tragic, sudden deaths are probably harder to deal with. Nobody got to say goodbye and nobody was prepared. I'd appreciate the time to say things I'd want to say, but I don't know if I'm strong enough to say them, knowing that I'll be leaving the people I'm saying them to.

This is something I'm going to continue to work on... and I definitely got something from this. I think just acknowledging and accepting the reality of death, as you spoke about, rather than hiding from the conversation and thought, will be a good start for me.

I couldn't believe when I read 'On Death and Dying'... I flew over to my bookshelf and yes, there it sits! I took Death, Dying and Bereavement in college... you'd have thought that would've brought me some peace? lol... One of the assignments was actually to write my own obituary and mind you, I had already had my children when I took this class... and so, having to leave them behind. I'll tell you, that was one of the hardest assignments I've ever had to do... but I'll bet it was good for me because it certainly brought some element of reality with it.

It's been 4 or 5 years since I've taken that class or touched that book. Since you've spoke so highly of it, I think I'm going to read it again. I just might get something different out of it now, especially because I'm searching for different answers.

Excellent hub, as always... and I will be sharing!


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 27, 2013:

Thanks again Shyron!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 22, 2013:

Thank you for stopping by Shyron. I guess by that quote all but no one is fit to live since most people do fear dying. Nearly everyone fears the unknown.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 21, 2013:

Great Job on this hub.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 21, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for reading, commenting, voting, and sharing this hub, and for sharing your personal experience. I too am glad you had the opportunity to spend this time with your friend. I'm sure it benefited both of you. Thank you for your kind compliments also.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 20, 2013:

rajan jolly, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. I know some people have a difficult time talking about death and even avoid thinking about it at all. I hope this hub will put a little different perspective on it. Death is not, after all, a superstition, but a very real part of life for all of us.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 19, 2013:

neelu sinha, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub and for sharing your insights!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 19, 2013:

moonlake, thank you for reading, commenting, voting, and especially sharing this hub!

I'm sorry your friend wouldn't allow visitors for her daughter. Even if your friend my prefer no visitors when she's unwell, doesn't mean it wouldn't have benefitted her daughter.

Agree with your husband, except I think sometimes one can alter the day they die, just as the Bible says certain doom can be averted if people repented of their sins and changed their ways.

Mainly it's important to be available for friends, loved ones, etc., who want to talk. If they really don't want to, that's OK too, but it's good to be open to what they need.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 17, 2013:

This hub reminds me of something I heard once.

Only those are fit to live, who do not fear to die and none are fit to die, who have shrunk from the joys of lift. Life and death are part of the great adventure.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 17, 2013:

Au fait, a very well written article. A difficult topic to write about when when one is writing on ways to go about tackling this truth knowing well when one is going to die.

It certainly is practical thinking about death and one has to make preparations for making the exit smoother for oneself as much as for others so that one can leave with a lighter heart.

Great job. Up and interesting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 16, 2013:

Excellent article! We just had a house guest last week that has cancer. She will be on chemo every 3 weeks until the end. They are not talking cure. She is on a pain patch with additional break through medication. Can no longer drive. We had a great time together and she has an indomitable spirit...making plans for a family vacation next June, etc. We did however talk about death. She is unafraid and is very spiritual. It is so nice to be able to discuss things like that. Whether I ever see her again, I consider this visit a gift. All up votes except funny and will definitely share. Very important topic that you handled well.

Deepali from India on January 15, 2013:

Very good article. Death is a truth but neither we remember this nor we want to remember.

But the only thing we can do with it is just to make us comfortable with our and other's lives and the day when we die, all the good deeds and happiness would go with us in the other unknown world.

moonlake from America on January 15, 2013:

My husband believes the day we are born, God already knows the day we will die; no matter what we do we can't stop it.

Sometimes people that are dying, getting a divorce, or in the hospital, don’t want anyone around and don‘t want to talk. My friend wouldn’t tell me about her divorce. Another friend didn’t want her friends at the hospital to see her sick daughter. When our son was sick and we thought he wasn’t going to make it the waiting room filled up with his friends and ours. Everyday someone was there I have to say it helped us. It helped us to see how many people cared about him.

Voted up and shared.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 25, 2012:

annaglobesh: Thank you for your comment and for adding to the discussion! You might consider writing a hub on your experiences with people who know they are dying and have little time left. Thanks again for you input. It is very much appreciated!

annaglomesh from Australia on May 24, 2012:

Sorry should have elaborated more...I meant the article was a great article covering the issues of people facing their own death and the people around them facing it also. I saw the different ways people dealt with it working in the industry in different roles and often we met the person who was facing death as they wanted to get everything in order beforehand.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 24, 2012:

Thank you for commenting annaglomesh, but this hub is not about embalming, or funerals. It's about helping people face their last days.

annaglomesh from Australia on May 20, 2012:

I worked in funeral industry for 15 years and am a qualified embalmer...great article

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 02, 2012:

Sunnie: It is a hard subject for lots of people and I'm hoping to make it easier because people who are dying need someone to talk to. We all need to prepare for the inevitable and to live every day to the fullest in the meantime.

Thank you for your comments! They are very much appreciated.

Sunnie Day on February 27, 2012:

Really good hub with many wonderful thoughts on a hard subject. Thank you! :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 06, 2012:

50 Caliber: Agree. Thanks for the compliments, and for the comments.

50 Caliber from Arizona on January 05, 2012:

Au fait, a good sound topic presented well and easy to follow. It is a topic we all need to set straight. Everyday is new and only one knows when it's a persons day.



C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 05, 2012:

You are so right! Thank you for your comment Krystal D.

Krystal from Los Angeles on January 04, 2012:

Thank you Au fait. Realizing that death is something we will all have to experience helps me to understand how important it is that I live today. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 29, 2011:

Thank you Jonny Windows, for taking time to read and comment on my hub!

Jonny windows from u.k. on December 29, 2011:

a very good insight into how to deal with friends and loved ones when they are dying

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 29, 2011:

The point of this hub is that people need to get past their discomfort with the subject of death so that they can be helpful to people who are facing far more than a little discomfort. Instead of making the situation worse for so many people who end up facing death all alone, people need to be able to offer comfort and support.

Thank you Shyron for your great comments. I always appreciate them and the thought you put into them.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on December 28, 2011:

I did not tell you in the previous comment, My friend Stacy also believed in an after life, and once told me that if I should see her after her passing, that I was not to be afraid. She said "no one would come back to visit someone they did not like/love.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on December 28, 2011:

I don't know what I would do, if I were told that I have a short time to live... Some times I do think about death, but I think I would worry more about those I love and how they would handle my passing, especially my husband.

This is a very moving article. Thank you

And most people say, I wish I had told her I loved her, I wish I had told her how I feel, but usually that is after someone has passed.

My friend Stacy, told me she had lung cancer and had a few months to live, and we talked about death and she knew that I loved, but I felt that I was not there for her as much as I should have been. Stacy died 2 weeks to the day after she told me.

I don't think that I would tell anyone, other than my husband, I would not want anyone to feel uncomfortable, not knowing what to say to me, but it is so easy to say what I think I would do, if it were me.

I do know that I don't think of it as a death sentence. I believe there is an after life, I believe that I will see Stacy again and all the other people that have passed from my life.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 28, 2011:

Thank you sciencegirl, for adding so much to the conversation.

I am hoping that through this hub people will realize that they need to forget their own discomfort on certain subjects and be there for the people in their lives who need them. People who have been told their illness is terminal, people who have been in horrific accidents, people who are getting divorced, people who have lost their job or their home -- mainly people who are suffering loss. People usually avoid other people who are experiencing loss, making the situation even harder for the person who must face their loss alone and lonely.

sciencegirl on December 28, 2011:

Thank you. I can appreciate this very much. I was a hospice caregiver for 2 years prior to my father's death and can say I learned more about life from my patients and Dad then anyone else could possible teach me. It is too bad fear of our own mortality stops so many of us from moving closer when loved ones get sick. A common theme for my hospice patients was feeling alone..or as if they had to comfort the loved one being left behind. The greatest gift I shared with my dad was that he let me be there for him in the end. I needed nothing in return. The most important thing we can do..especially if we know we are dying is to LIVE well. Thanks again for this hub. I appreciated reading it.

Related Articles