Brain Tumor

Let’s Talk about Death, Baby

brain tumor and death.png

This post could potentially make people that know me or love me uncomfortable, because I’m going to talk about my eventual demise and my wishes about what should happen when that time comes.

***

When I was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I had some pretty typically terrifying thoughts about my mortality. But I’ll tell you a secret: that was not a new thing for me. In fact, when I was in second grade, I had severe death anxiety that kept me up nights and, now that I reflect on it, probably had my parents pondering whether or not therapy would help me.

“I was thinking about John Henry,” I said hugging the toilet in case I puked. “We learned about him in school. And then I remembered I didn’t want to go to church last Sunday. AND MOMMY I DON’T WANT TO BEAT A MACHINE AND THEN DIE AND GO TO HELL.”

So yeah, I was obsessed with dying and rendered sleepless for a few weeks during my eighth year of life, but eventually I calmed down.

***

And I’ve totally chilled out about dying of a brain tumor too. That’s because I realized something: I never have known when I was going to die. And that makes getting up every day with a brain tumor kind of normal. In a way.

I could have died in 1993 from a freak explosion in my kitchen involving a microwave and a couple of forks, but I didn’t. I could’ve died in 2002 from beheading, but I didn’t. I could’ve died yesterday after being poisoned by a bad batch of chocolate chip cookies, but I didn’t. None of these things happened, but they all could have.

Bottom line is that I still have no idea how many days I have left. So blogging about what I want to happen when I die shouldn’t be read by you, dear reader, as my thinking the end is nigh.

I have no more clue today when I will die than I did when I was an eight-year-old kid being terrified by church people about hell. It’s just I’m practical enough to think it could be helpful to have this sitting here so my family doesn’t have to deal with grief and worry about maybe pissing off my ghost.

***

1.) Do What Comforts You

I don’t really care whether I’m cremated or buried or given to science. So put my ashes on the nightstand or mail them to Rodney Davis (if applicable) or bury me in one of those pods that grows trees. Just don’t spend too much money whatever you pick.

2.) My Social Media Accounts

Leave them up or archived or whatever, if you like. But if I have some kind of automatic posting thingamajig set up on a site where my accounts are still updating themselves after I die, please turn that shit off. That’s just creepy. (A few years back I was haunted for a while by someone whom I learned had passed away. She had some automatic Tweets going every day. I was tortured by the question Is it rude to unfollow a dead person? for weeks.)

3.) Remember I Had a Brain Tumor

People are bound to discover things about me after my death that I wouldn’t have necessarily advertised while alive. Embarrassing things. Mortifying things. Mean things. Ignorant things. Shameful things. Please blame them all on my brain tumor, even if they happened years before my diagnosis. I mean, truthfully, we don’t know how long that thing has been there, and I feel like I deserve the benefit of the doubt.

4.) Have an Informal Get Together

Go to a restaurant or rent a shelter house at a park or something and eat food and tell jokes and hug each other and show a slideshow of pictures from my life instead of staring at me under horrible lights in a funeral home. Unless staring at me under horrible lights in a funeral home makes you feel better. In that case, see point 1.

5.) Don’t Feel Bad About Getting Rid of My Stuff

Keep what you want and donate, sell, or pitch what you don’t. Unless hoarding makes you feel better. In that case, see point 1 and then call A&E.

6.) Let Me Go

Look, I know this blog post isn’t a legally binding document or anything, but I’m not really feeling up to the task of drafting legal documents right this second.

I don’t want to be on life support for years or even months if the tumor gets bad or I end up in some auto accident that leaves me unable to breathe on my own.

The daily stress of pull-the-plug-or-do-not-pull-the-plug is not living for my family or caregivers, and it sure as hell ain’t living for me. And whoever is around to make that decision, if it comes to that, should be supported by every member of my family.

7.) Someone Take Care of My Pets

Depending on the circumstances, it may be obvious who will take care of my pets. Or it may not be. What is 99.9% certain is that I will have at least one pet at the time of my death. I can’t not have a pet. Anyway, I don’t want that pet going to a shelter during its time of grief.

That’s all I can think of right now. I reserve the right to amend this post at any time. Feel free to bookmark it for future reference.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Death, Baby

  1. I’ve had the same thoughts for years, since it became clear that my illnesses are never going away. I should probably put something down in writing too, now that I think about it. No one will have this convo with me because they find it depressing. But it’s reality, and I don’t find it depressing at all. I actually find it kind of comforting, knowing that my wishes are clear, or will be anyway. Good for you for taking the time to write this. hugs

  2. This is something I could have written. I feel exactly the same way about everything you’ve written here, except cremation is my choice of disposal, and I really don’t want any kind of funeral home deal. I want a party! Throw me a party, drink, and dance! Heck, I might even put a playlist together for you.

    By the way, this kind of conversation is vital to have with your loved ones, no matter your circumstances or current health. I remember having such conversations with my Dad and I knew what his wishes were. When the time came for me and my Mom and my sisters to make the decision to remove him from life support, it wasn’t just an easy decision…it was the only decision. We knew that it was what Dad would have wanted. So no one should feel oogy about having this discussion. It’s a necessary one.

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