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Old 09-15-2012, 10:03 AM
Location: Duncan, Oklahoma
2,583 posts, read 1,187,269 times
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To answer the OP's questions: Yes, I would want to know, and I would tell my family and friends.

I say this because my father died last Wednesday, September 12, 2012. He and Mom had everything in order--from finances to final arrangements. While we are saddened that he is gone, it has certainly made it easier on Mom, my brother, my husband, and me. If for no other reason than this, I would advise letting people know if the end is coming and doing everything possible to ease the burden of those left behind.
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Old 09-15-2012, 10:32 AM
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My father held back as much as he could about his cancer spreading. It was terminal and he died from it. I think in the case of parents, many of them still have the instinct to protect their kids, so that's part of it. But not all parents do. My mother actually kept talking (and still does as far as I know) about what if she dies when she's been cancer free (as far as I know) for 8 years now after a mastectomy. She's quick to share news it might be cancer then not as quick to share news it wasn't in subsequent scares.

I found out about my dad's situation from my stepmom who would call me to update me. My brother didn't want to hear what she had to say, so he blocked it out. By the time we got to my dad's last weeks, I had some idea of what was going on, while my brother was in total denial and thought my dad was going to get better. He took it very hard when he died. I was mourning too, but I think I was a bit more prepared for it and knew that it was likely to happen. I think my dad should have been more open with us. It might have prepared my brother better for my dad's death. But I think in some ways my dad was hoping he could beat it and he didn't want to admit to himself that he was terminal, plus as a dad he wanted to shield us from it.

As for the logistics, he wanted a DNR, but didn't make the legal arrangements. Which meant I was the one who had to sign it as a doctor confirmed to me in the vestibule of an ER (there were no other rooms for us to talk as the ER was very busy) that it was end stage cancer and my dad didn't have very long left. The will situation was a complete and utter mess. My parents split, but stayed separated vs. divorced because my mother and my brother and I got more benefits. He wanted to marry my stepmom (I call her that because while she's not legally my stepmom, she's more than my dad's girlfriend), but my mother fought the divorce proceedings he started in the year before his death. Btw, he met my stepmom after the split and infidelity wasn't an issue in the split. At one point, my mom had legal proceedings against his estate and we became estranged because I refused to lie to get a copy of either his will or death certificate. I was willing to request it from my uncle/stepmom on her behalf, as awkward as that would have been. But that wasn't acceptable to her, she wanted me to lie and say it was for myself. I refused to lieto them. My uncle was the person named as executor and my stepmom the alternate. I'm not 100 percent sure why, but my uncle stepped down at one point, probably due to all of the drama and conflict instigated by my mother.

If I were terminally ill, I'd get as much sorted out as I possibly could. I don't know who/how I would tell. Quite honestly I think physician assisted suicide should be an option for someone who is terminally ill, provided the diagnosis has been confirmed and isn't in doubt. Cancer and many other condtions are slow, painful ways to die and I think someone who is going to die regardless of the treatment should have the option to say how they go.

Last edited by exscapegoat; 09-15-2012 at 10:42 AM..
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:20 AM
Location: Duncan, Oklahoma
2,583 posts, read 1,187,269 times
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Exscapegoat: I completely agree with you on physician assisted suicide. Having gone through more than three years of watching the decline of my father, I know Dad would agree with you, too. In the early years of his decline, he would often say he wished there was a way to hurry up the process. His Advanced Health Directive helped in the final month; however, if he'd had his way, he would have died earlier.

Because Mom (still living) and Dad knew the day was coming, the wills, the directives, the DNRs, the trust, and all the appropriate papers were in order and in one place. Mom and I completed all the calls in less than two hours, and now we are just waiting on death certificates and forms to fill out and send back.

As you say, "getting as much sorted out" as possible makes it easier on the family. Our family knew what was coming with Dad, and we were glad to know in advance so that we could do all we could to ease things after his death. My last words to him were, "I love you, and I'll never forget you. I'll take care of everything." He suffered from dementia, so I'm not sure he totally understood, but his and Mom's prior planning has certainly been a blessing.
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Old 09-15-2012, 04:27 PM
Location: WA
604 posts, read 529,987 times
Reputation: 2050
My DH when diagnosed with Stage 4 esophagus cancer last August, informed the family. Our 2 children (2 sons) came
right away from another state, were able to celebrate his birthday. His 2 sisters came the next month and other kin.
We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our sons. Final arrangements were made, he insisted on doing his own
Celebration of Life, informing the Pastor what he wanted.

DH was 65, able to see I can to be taken care of; he knew he was going home to his Heavenly Father. In our heads
we knew this was to be the last illness though in our hearts---denial.

For us, informing people, helped him say good-bye to loved ones. No one treated him with pity.

Lesson Learned:
Let me know if I can do anything for you, I heard numerous times. Didn't know what we needed. Now I know to say,
May I come see you, bring a favorite dessert or a meal?, Would you allow me to vacuum for you, it helps my stress
level, I recently told someone. She appreciated the offer, though just wanted a visit, which I did.

Flowers! I received from a company, when I informed them his illness.

Remember too, after the loved one has departed to visit, telephone the ones left behind. Telephone calls mean so much to me, cards too are much appreciated. For me, DH death, once he moved to Heaven, a lot of the telephone calls have
stopped. God is good, have been bless. This Forum/Thread has assisted me in my new journey A LOT; so appreciate each of you!

DH moved to Heaven, February, 2012.
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Old 09-15-2012, 04:52 PM
Location: Manhattan, Ks
1,280 posts, read 5,938,336 times
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My Mom had a cousin who had cancer and did not inform anyone. At the time of his death his parents were completely caught off-guard. The death of a child is always devastating, but for them to know that he suffered alone was agonizing for them. I admit, I would be tempted to keep a dire diagnosis from my parents in the hopes of sparing them worry and pain. But after that happened Mom made me promise that if a similar situation ever came up I would tell her.
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:02 PM
Location: Southern California
748 posts, read 989,552 times
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My mother always smoked, she never tried to quit. After she passed, looking back, I recalled two times she was trying to quit smoking. She also had a large mass on her shoulder, this was several months before she passed, but it was no longer there when she left.

The family all went down to her house during Easter. My cousin over heard the doctors talking in the hall way. That is how we learned how bad it was, on accident. She went into the hospital, they put a drain into her lung, to remove the fluid, her lung collapsed. She actually died from hemorrhagic of the lung.

The last time I saw my mom, she was propped up on her bed, I was giving her a hug good bye, she hugged me so hard, like she knew it was going to be the last time.

I lived 2 hours away from her. The only thing we knew was she wanted to be buried next to her father. My sister was a wreck and could not make choices, how to ship her up north, picking a coffin, services, clothing.

Shortly after she passed, I was having a conversation with some friends about making shrimp cocktail. We did not know how to make it, I went to the phone to call my mom. Even when I realized I did not know how to get to the city where she wanted to be buried, I picked up the phone to call my mom.

The services were simple. My uncles, my boyfriend and my son, all helped to dig the grave. We brought her to the cemetery in the back of her pick up truck. My uncle did the services, we all spoke. We lowered her into the ground with ropes. Burned some sage.

That last month, from the time I found out, on my birthday, had she told me the truth, I could have brought her grandson down for more visiting, my sister could have taken the chance to mend their relationship. We take it for granted that there will always be more time.. then just 30 days later, she was gone.

Thanks for all the great responses.
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:32 PM
12,483 posts, read 14,631,909 times
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Originally Posted by educator1953 View Post
To answer the OP's questions: Yes, I would want to know, and I would tell my family and friends.

I say this because my father died last Wednesday, September 12, 2012. He and Mom had everything in order--from finances to final arrangements. While we are saddened that he is gone, it has certainly made it easier on Mom, my brother, my husband, and me. If for no other reason than this, I would advise letting people know if the end is coming and doing everything possible to ease the burden of those left behind.
I think everything could be "put in order" without having to tell the family....I'm with Padgett2 on this one....I'd keep it to myself until their was no denying it....sorry that you lost your dad.
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Old 09-16-2012, 03:13 AM
Status: "Snow in the high country and I'm missing it!" (set 9 hours ago)
Location: 900 miles from my home in 80814
4,677 posts, read 6,766,221 times
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My husband died suddenly and totally unexpectedly six days before his 60th birthday. He had not updated his Will since 1997, and the irony is, he was an Estate attorney. He didn't tell anyone where his Will was, so it took me a few days to find it. Fortunately, the Will was plain and simple--everything to me if I was still alive, if not, evenly between the kids. But, I learned a lot from this experience as I had to plan a service, scatter ashes, sell a house, move to another state, distribute furniture, arrange for auction and Goodwill, sell three vehicles, and figure out finances as I didn't pay the bills or do any of the financials. My lesson learned was to put my estate in place, and in the past two years since he died, I have put all my real estate, personal property, bank and investment accounts, and my vehicle in a Living Trust with me as the Trustee. I have told my kids who my Estate attorney is, who my estate executors are, where my trust documents are located and made them aware of my wishes should I become incapacitated, and my wishes for a service and where I want my ashes scattered. I don't want them to go through what I went through for 15 months while we sorted out and settled my husband's estate. It will be three years in October and his estate still isn't closed, mostly due to not being able to close out his law practice because of red tape.

One thing that is wonderful for the dying or those who have to make decisions for the dying is that the State of Arizona has a Medical Directives directory through the Secretary of State's office which allows a person to make a Living Will, Medical Directive and Medical Power of Attorney, and file them with the State. When you file your directives with the state, you're issued an ID card that you carry in your wallet like you would your driver's license, with your ID # on it, and if anything happens to you, medical responders can access the directory and get your directive information immediately. Obviously, if you're conscious, you can show your card to any medical provider and they will download your info and put it in your records. My kids know to look for my card, and know to let any medical personnel know that my directives are on file with the state.

If I were to die suddenly like my husband, everything is in place so it will be relatively easy for my kids to handle my wishes and my estate. If I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, I think I will wait until I can't hide it anymore (unless I need chemo right away, which I can't hide) before I tell my kids. They are all out of state, married with their own families, so being with me for long periods of time won't be practical. I'd probably not want to impose on them until I felt they needed to know, as I wouldn't want them overreacting or hovering. I'm the "suffer in silence" type, and when I'm sick with even a cold, I prefer to be left alone, so their hovering, calling and worrying would probably bother me. I know they'd be scared and concerned, and checking up on me frequently, but that would drive me nuts. Hence, my not wanting to tell them until it was absolutely necessary. I may feel completely different if it were to happen, though, but for now, that's how I'd feel.

I had a really close friend lose her husband a couple of weeks ago to pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in May with stage IV, so they knew he was terminal, and they let everyone know right away. He had had no symptoms, and it was discovered only by accident, so it shocked people, and shocked them even more when he went downhill so quickly. Because everyone knew, many people organized meals and round robin visitation in his last days which was a real help for the family. Still, in the three months they had, they went to Europe, to the Holy Land, went around the U.S. seeing family and saying goodbye. They listed their home for sale, moved into a much smaller patio home that she could manage, made medical directives, got his will in order, made funeral and burial arrangements and had everything set up and in place so it was as easy as possible for her. She had no decisions to make, no house to sell, nothing. It was all done ahead of time. He only really suffered the last five days when he was completely bedridden and in excruciating pain. He chose to forego hospital or hospice and die at home, but they had nurses with him to give him morphine, change him and help him pass peacefully, which he did. If I have a terminal illness, I hope my final days and passing go as smoothly as his did.

Last edited by Marcy1210; 09-16-2012 at 03:27 AM..
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:09 PM
Location: Windham County, VT
10,547 posts, read 4,697,526 times
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On a purely interpersonal level (apart from addressing the crucial practicalities of wills & such beforehand), my feelings are mixed and varied about such a situation. I can't give a definite answer.

Were I to be given a terminal dx, I would feel competing urges to share and to hide that information form other people. Given that remains hypothetical for me (thus far, fingers crossed) I cannot know how much disclosure vs. how much avoiding I would do. I believe that I would tell people, because that's generally how I behave-I keep my few close confidantes updated on what's happening with me, for good and for ill.

Would I want to know if someone close to me were given terminal dx ? In theory, of course I'd want to know, but that doesn't mean my wish to know trumps that person's right to handle it how they see fit.

My one experience of this was when my mother died. I called up her home one day (having had no idea anything was wrong) and was told she'd been taken to the hospital. Two weeks later, she was dead, from cancer that had spread. I was taken aback at the suddenness, of the news of her being ill and at the fact of her dying so quickly after that.
I don't think that having more time to process the info. would have helped either of us in the moment: the outcome would've been the same, only more drawn-out. It's only now, many years later, that I have the ability to analyze the circumstances with less intense/reflexive emotion.

Another relative was upset at my mother having kept this information to herself-I can understand that, yet I also respect my mother's right to make her own choices based on her preferences/tolerances. Both reactions make sense to me: wishing my mother had been open about what was going on, as well as stipulating that it was her right to live & die (given the choices available to her) privately.
A loss is a loss, and therefore painful-and being forewarned can add to or it can subtract from the overall suffering. Sometimes the answer differs, depending on whether one is friend/family member of the person-in-question or whether oneself is the person-in-question.
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Old 09-16-2012, 11:18 PM
Location: Southwest Nebraska
1,297 posts, read 4,035,344 times
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My mother died of cancer 3 yrs ago. She had a spot show up on her lung 6 months earlier but chose no treatment and told no one in our family or close friends.

On Thanksgiving before the end I helped arrange for my other 3 brothers and familys to go visit even though we new nothing. They all went and me and my wife were 350 miles away and had little money but decided to go anyway. When I called and told her she told us to stay the heck away, that she did not want to see us.

We were always close but she had avoided us in past without explaining, and we sent an e-mail stating our hurt feelings. Then they headed to Florida to see other brother at x-mas, even though he was at Thanksgiving dinner. She went to specialist in Atlanta, GA and found over 50 spots on liver and was given 3 weeks to live.

Youngest brother set up hospice in his house in Atlanta and we were finally told, but had to sell furniture and borrow car to get there and spend what little money we had on motel room cause my Mom did not want us at house.

Eventually we got to see her and she forgave us and it was PURE HELL watching her suffer. Was told later that she acted the way she did to us because it is a normal reaction in one of the steps that happens when you are dying. This was in a booklet given to us and made us feel better.

Yes, I wish she had told us earlier cause there were so many things I wanted to talk to her about. I also went to counciling for a long time to help get thru it.

My Dad passed away 11 yrs ago after a long battle with Parkinsons Disease.
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