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Value Creation Blog

How Cancer Changed My View Of Death

Posted by Josh Patrick

op edWe’re all going to die.  We know it, and we do everything in our power to pretend that death is not the real end.  We use terms like moving on.  The truth is we’re not moving on, we’re dead and we’ve stopped.

This is not to say that death isn’t scary for me, it is.  I’ve just come to terms with death in a way that you may have not.

We need to stop using words that aren’t death and dying.

Moving on, in a better place, at peace are just a few of the terms we use to avoid saying the word death, dying or dead.  If you check Wikipedia you’ll see dozens of terms for death and dying.  Having lots of terms for something is not bad, that is unless you’re trying to avoid the topic.

Death gives us a chance to talk about important things with each other.  When we plan our death we’re planning life for those we love. 

You say, “how could that be true?”  For me, death is about teaching lessons.  Most of the time those who die in our society are old.  They’ve lived pretty long lives.  They have lots to teach.  Instead of learning we warehouse these people and pretend they don’t exist.  Could this be because we don’t want to think about our own death?

We’re all going to die.

I know you get it at least on an intellectual level.  Have you really thought about the fact that you’re going to die?  You don’t know when, you just know that it’s probably not at the moment that you’re thinking about.

For many of us, if we don’t think about death or use words other than those dreaded d words we just might not die.  Isn’t that a silly idea?  We have too much alternate reality in the world.  You could start changing your life to think about how death and dying can be a good thing to talk about in your family.

When you have a life ending disease death becomes real.

For me, the idea of dying became very real while I was lying in the hospital with all sorts of tubes hanging out of my body.  I was getting very large doses of chemotherapy.  Some of these doses were large enough that they could have put me in intensive care.  If that didn’t go well, then I could die.

When I was in that hospital bed thinking about death it wasn’t very scary.  The only thing that was scary was I wondered whether I had any wisdom that I had passed on?  I found out I did.  That made me feel pretty good.  The second question was I wondered how much it would hurt.  Luckily I never found out.  Death became real and when faced with it I found it wasn’t really all that scary.

A few things for you to think about

Think about these things and have a conversation with those who are important in your life:

  • Talk about what has made your family successful.  Talk about what lessons you want those after you to learn.
  • Talk about your assets.  Don’t keep it a secret.  Too much pain is caused by people who wait until they’re dead before they share what they have.
  • Ask for input from people who will be your inheritors.  These people should not only be your family.  They might be charities as well as friends you might leave something to.
  • Be clear about how you want to die.  If you want life support, let your family know.  If you want the plug pulled, make sure you’re clear about that.  Get the proper documents in place to support your thoughts.
  • Get a will and update it every time something major happens in your life.  Review your will at least once a year with those who matter.  It’ll force you to have important conversations.

Are you willing to start talking about death and using the dreaded d word?  You might find your life will get richer if you do.

I recently ran across a book that is very important when it comes to this topic.  You might want to pick a copy up.  You can find more information at www.willingwisdom.com.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: end of life, lessons learned, estate planning

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