I recently was thinking, if the doctors knew something was wrong and my days left on this earth were much more limited than my assumptions, would I want to be told. I believe that different families make different decisions when faced with this situation, based mostly on how they think the sick person will react. If the person is level headed and handles pressures and crises well, then the person should be told so that they have the opportunity to make the most of the limited time left.
But if the person easily falls apart or has had troubles with depression, maybe its better not to tell them and to just live their last weeks or months in the most normal way they can, continuing to assume they have plenty of time left. Now it may have been for a different reason, but the doctors found that a coworker of mine had a bad heart and only weeks to live. But at the wife’s request, the coworker was never told his time was much more limited than what he would like to believe. The family knew, the people at work knew, but the sick coworker did not. And then he died.
The reason the situation came to mind is a book I recently read, recommended by Michael Hyatt – Chasing Daylight, by Eugene O’Kelly. The writer finds himself diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and has roughly three months to live, which he knows. During these last three months, he determines to make the most of his limited time. He wants to say his farewells to friends and coworkers, to “unwind” and beautifully resolve relationships – to make as many “perfect moments” as possible. This process brought back many happy memories and kept his focus on life rather than death.
I recently shared in Carpe Diem, part two about another book I recently read – 20,000 Days and Counting, by Robert D. Smith. He got to his mid-50’s and at the point of having lived 20,000 days took a 48 hour retreat to plan his next 20,000 days. Then he wrote this book to share his insights. It was interesting to me that O’Kelly calculated at the time of his diagnosis that he should have had about 10,000 days left in his life, but in fact only had one per cent of that – 100 days.
I have calculated how many days I’ve been alive and looked at a reasonable guess at how many I might have left to me. But when I ask myself would I want to be told, I reply (to myself) that I should not wait. It’s like a t-shirt I recently saw – Statistics Have Proven: Five Out of Five People Are Going to Die. All our days are numbered, and none of us has any guarantees other than the fact that we are all eventually going to die. So for me there is a better question than “Would you want to be told you are going to die soon?” The better question is “What should I do today to make the most of the time I have left – no matter how much that is?” What about you – what should you do today to make the most of your life?