February 16, 2010 11:54 AM Subscribe
How do I tell my family I am dying?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (62 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
I am in my mid thirties with a terminal illness and two to three years left to live. I have a wife of fifteen years and a seven year old son. They know that I am ill and in a great deal of physical pain (although thankfully still in good spirits) but do not yet know how seriously. My wife has been dreading this and suspects it but my son only knows that I am in pain and that it is getting more difficult for me to do things with him. We have a close and loving relationship and spend a lot of time together. I sold my business both because it was too difficult to keep working and so that I would have more time for him and my wife.
I am not afraid of dying and have had a wonderful and very full life, and all things considered I am in good spirits and happy, but I feel terrible about leaving them and most of all feel like I am letting down my son. I have very few memories from that age, so I also worry that he will have no memories of me at all. I have tried talking to my doctors about this but am having trouble relating to them on the emotional and social aspects (and to be honest I feel deeply betrayed and let down by the healthcare system in general for a variety of reasons that are at this time beyond being of consequence), and I don't like talking about it to begin with because it's so unpleasant.
How do I talk to them about it? How do I even bring it up? Should I spend the remaining time doing normal things or should I travel with my family and have some grand adventure and "live" as much as we can? When the pain and physical and mental degradation become unbearable I want to speed up the process to limit my suffering (and theirs), and it is on this issue that I feel the most guilt and fear as to how to explain this to others (but of course I want to hold on as long as I can). I want to emphasize again that I feel like I am personally at terms with this situation, and am a happy person and that I am not depressed. I just don't know how to help others come to terms with it.
Any advice or personal experiences good or bad to help me understand the things I need to think about are appreciated.