I’ve got this issue. Actually, there are some reliable sources out there who would argue that I am in no way restricted to just one issue. But I have this one issue that has just been bugging me for, well, let’s say, three or four years now.
It has to do with how we mortals deal with the serious illnesses of those we are close to.
Now, my judgement is admittedly blurry on this one. It was this revelation that made me think that maybe the issue is mine and not anyone else’s.
I’d say, up till I was diagnosed with cancer in 04, I had a sort of regular exposure to death. I would say I had more exposure to human misery than most folks, because of the nature of my work. But I didn’t feel surrounded by death.
And then I got sick. And then I got to feel what it’s like to not be a regular person. And then I got to experience what it’s like to have some people remove you from the category of regular mortals because they have, more or less, already written you off for dead.
I get very, very tetchy these days when I hear anyone who is neither a patient nor a trained medical professional in a lab coat saying anyone else is about to die.
I actually blew a small gasket at a staff meeting last year when a co-worker stated with great confidence that one of our clients was about to die.
Kind of got hot under the collar and explained, with flapping arms, how completely insulting and chilly it is when people write you off as essentially no longer among the living.
I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot. It’s been the blog post I have been writing in my head for at least the last 2 months.
See, I had decided that people who aren’t sick become completely freaked out about the possibility of the death of a loved one that they make these great sweeping pronouncements about the amount of time the other person has left on their clock.
I figured this was because we, as a culture, can’t speak about death except to say that maybe some god type figure will reward you with harps and puppies or hundreds of virgins or whatever your personal maker has sort of suggested you will get as a door prize for colouring inside the lines while you are still made of blood and bone.
I figured it was about everyone else.
But maybe it’s about me.
Because it makes me really, really angry when people talk like that. But the truth is, people are just going to continue to be freaked out, and not admit that they are freaked out, and make great sweeping statements about someone else’s life.
So, I am going to try to not become spitting mad the next time someone says that stupid crap. I’ll try to remember that they are just freaked out and afraid and not really trying to act like some sort of palliative pronouncing smarty-pants who deserves a kick in the ass.
I don’t know if I can do it, but I am going to try.
And, if that doesn’t work, I do have an Ipod that does a fine job of blocking out idiotic background noise.
Thanks for the thoughtful and moving post. I am delurking to say that I’ve been following your blog for a while. I’m a queer woman with a close friend as well as a cousin with o.c., and I’m trying to figure out how to really ‘be there’ for them. My friend likes to say, when faced with yet another disappointing treatment, doomy-gloomy doctor’s prognosis, etc., “well, I’m not dead yet.” Which is true for each and every one of us, as we greet the day.
Thanks for your vulnerability and humor–they are pretty great.
Well, loved this post. Mostly because I seem to handle watching people I love fiercely being sick and actually at their death and now I’m getting a little pariah label in my family because of it.
People are fucked up on how they handle death mostly yes because their mortality becomes obvious.
It’s like when I had a fire… people got wierd like it was catching….
Anyways – a ramble… because this makes sense to me. We should all have a good death but not one that occurs cuz people have pushed us along.
So much more to say but i leave it at that for now.
PS: Fuck the Olympics.