Thinking About Death

donna and mallory in dc

I, like many young adult cancer survivors, think about death a fair amount.  The wondering of ‘what happens next’ kind of freaks me out if I really let my mind sink into it…ok, not kind of…really freaks me out!

When my mother was dying, we weren’t allowed to talk about that big elephant in the room: What happens if the treatments don’t work?  I feel like I missed out on this giant opportunity to learn and grieve and bond while still protected by my mom’s presence.  My family acted as if she everything was a-ok, as if she wasn’t dying, up until the last week of her life when she couldn’t talk much anymore.  I wish I could know what she hoped for me and what she hoped for herself, what she’d found worthwhile and worthless, and what she loved the most.  I wish I could ask her questions about being an adult, about being human, and about facing something alone.

Joanna, from a Cup of Jo, recently wrote about this very subject.

“The fear of flying often kicks in around age 27, studies reveal, when people start to grapple with their own mortality. They don’t feel invincible like they did as rowdy kids and hormonal teenagers. I totally get that, don’t you? “As life experiences build up, the reality of our own vulnerability as human beings can set in,” says New York-based therapist Nathan Feiles.”

And cancer is way more of a reality check than a fear of flying, right?  We face a disease that kills and then we keep on living with that knowledge.  Sometimes I feel as if I have looked death in the face every day since my mother’s diagnosis and my own.  At first, it made me frightened of everything.  Now, every once in a while, I get moments of fearlessness.  I have lived and I will die but I am proud of who I am and what I’ve done.

What about you?  Do you think about death?