Till Death

This weekend was a flurry of wedding stuff. We had the meeting with the Deacon to finalize our wedding service (on to the programs!), the tasting with the hotel to finalize the menu and our cake (cake!), our wedding shower (tea party!), sending out the invitations, and doing the preliminary table assignments (wow). It was all about checking things off the list and moving forward – which I love. Let’s get this party started, right?

While we were having a break from the hubbub, on mother’s day, and sitting around the kitchen watching my dad make hamburgers and sauces and coleslaw, I mentioned how we seemed to be the only one in pre-cana who had really talked about death. We’ve talked about what we want to happen when we die, what we want to happen if we are a vegetable, what we want to happen if we are diagnosed with something terminal, and we’ve talked about needing to write this down because when these difficult decisions pop up, we’ll need each other’s support.

And then it came out that that was the one thing that really freaked my mom out when we became engaged. Suddenly, they weren’t going to be the ones making the decisions about my health and my well being. For 25 years they had been the go-to, they had been the ones who could decide how to care for me if I wasn’t able to care for myself. But once I’m married it will be Kamel. My parents will have no say in any of those things, and neither will Kamel’s. It’s a huge responsibility and I’ve known it was there from the beginning. So we talk.

Kamel has pretty opposite views on death and illness than I do. He’s all for the fight and the holding on and I’m all for the quality of life and the letting go. We do What-Ifs. Like, “What if I have an accident and I’m in a coma and the doctors tell you that I can have a surgery that will make me walk again, but I could die, or I could live and not have the surgery but for sure never walk again? What do you do?” And then we talk about it. We talk and we talk and we talk because this is the most important trust we’re handing each other and I want him to know how I think and I want to know if (when) I need to make any really hard decision, I at least have a general idea of how he wants his health and being handled.

It may come off as morbid, as a whole lot of what we don’t want to talk about, but for me it brings comfort. I think one of the worst things in life is a young widow. It’s a special kind of tragedy. But what’s even worse would be to have no idea how to proceed with anything, having not had any of the conversations, and to be entirely alone in the process. So we talk.

23 thoughts on “Till Death”

  1. Smart smart smart.

    We’ve talked a bit about it … the end-of-life aspect of it. We’ve even gone so far as to have a living will recorded, so, in the event someone has to make a devistating choice, we have something that we can look at and realize “Yes, this is REALLY what we wanted to do.” Becuase if I’m putting it down legally, I’m going to be damn sure how I feel about it.

    I am curious, though, about the quality of life things. Like the surgery option you presented. I’m honestly not sure where I stand with that … or where Jon does.

    Hmm. Time for more conversations.

  2. This is a bone of contention with my husband and I. I have all this paperwork printed out on advanced care directives that we’ll sign and have in writing for when we need it, but he won’t do it. He doesn’t even want to talk about it really. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I ended our last conversation with, “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, you’re gonna feel like SHIT when you have no idea if I want you to pull the plug!”
    Y’all are much much smarter than us. Major kudos.

    1. This is incredibly hard for so many people to face. I’ve actually been having breakdowns lately at night. Crying in bed type things. Where I can’t conceptualize what happens after we die, and I don’t want to be alone, on this side or the other, and I make Kamel promise to haunt me. In the most comforting of ways, obviously. Although, knowing him, he would probably just pants me in public.

      1. ahahahaha. No. Wait. I’m not supposed to laugh at that? Whatever, you knew you were being funny when you wrote it — both of you!

        Do you guys have all the paperwork done yet? We’ve got to do our wills when we finally get a moment, and I’m all about advanced directives too. Luckily Stephen and I are on the same page about all that business.

        1. we don’t have wills because we don’t have children. So everything I have would go to Kamel anyway. We’ll do the advanced directives probably soon after we get married. Or sooner if I can stop being lazy and find some free forms. šŸ™‚

  3. Wait until you have to fill out some form that asks who your emergency contact is…and your initial reaction is to put mom and dads info…and then youre like WAIT…no no, its KAMEL for the emergency contact now! Crazy right?

  4. ohh…we’ve had those conversations. they’re one of the few things that can make me cry on the spot…to be alone from him because of something like that…

    but we talk as well…

    i think it’s great you guys are talking over everything…it’s tough..yeah, and it’s hard to think of hypotheticals that may never happen…but it’s a possibility…and the hardest thing, i would think, is being the one who has to choose…not the one whose fate rests in someone else’s hands, you know?

    1. I 100% agree. The scariest thing is not trusting Kamel, it’s being left to make decisions without his input on things that are about HIM and how awfully lonely that would be and how much more awful that would make any situation. So we talk.

  5. You’re intimidating me with all you’re getting done and being badass about.

    We made a point to talk about death. It was very relevant to me, and I think it’s important. C really didn’t want to.

    1. Yeah, there is a lot of resistence to that stuff. Kamel was very much like “whatever, do you what you want.” And I was adament that NO. you HAVE TO think about this and help me. These things will matter in the moment, not to him, but to everyone else.

      1. thank you for the kick in the pants. i think this’ll be getting fwded to him because we *need* to do this. i’ve half-heartedly tried a few times, but given in to the “whatever you wants” and the “but how we will know what we want until something happens.” i’ve gone through all this with a parent, so i *really* should know better. šŸ™‚

  6. It’s definitely something that needs to be discussed, as morbid as it is. I know how my guy wants things and I am pretty certain he knows how I want things as well. With my guy’s line of work, it’s crucial that I know what he wants… he is a firefighter and god forbid something happen… ya know. it’s being practical.

  7. Yeah we have talked about it, and it is hard but more important than it is hard. We still have to have it written though !
    Hooray for choosing cake šŸ™‚ Yummy

  8. Snaps to you for hard, big kid discussions.

    This came up for us when I got a new job and suddenly had to make choices about life insurance. I put my mom down as my primary benefactor but C down as the secondary. It’s not a ton of money but enough to “bury me and give you a little something for putting up with me.” He did not find that funny. Not. One. Bit.

  9. The best talks you could ever have!
    My wife and I talk about it on a regular basis and we don’t find it morbid. It’s information we all need to have written and safely kept!

  10. This x1000. Jason and I have been having these talks recently (and one of my summer goals is to get our end-of-life wishes down in writing, all legal-like). He was pretty resistant at first – not in a “I refuse to think about it” way, but rather in a “This is really morbid and it makes me sad so I don’t want to do it” way. But I asked him, “Would you rather talk about this now, while we’re both young and healthy and can snuggle and cry and reassure each other after, or do you want to have to think about it all by yourself in the midst of tons of grief?” So we started talking. In my eyes, this is the best gift that possibly-dead-future-me can give him – taking care of all these details now so he doesn’t have to later (and doesn’t have to go through the agony of questioning what I would have wanted).

  11. This is so so important. Many couples don’t get around to discussing this kind of stuff because it is hard and uncomfortable. But if you never do it, you’re not going to know what to do in that situation. Major props for dealing with it now.

  12. We had already talked about these issues, but we were pretty much forced to talk about them again when we sat down with a lawyer to put together extra legal documentation to ensure that we’re considered each other’s next of kin. Fortunately for us, our views on these issues are relatively similar. I would imagine these conversations are a lot more complicated (and ongoing) when you have really different opinions from your partner.

  13. Lauren,
    This post really speaks to me.
    1. Death=scary
    2.I’m trying to “specialize” in death issues in my grad program and just had a meeting with a prof yesterday to begin work on end of life issues and finding new ways to help spouses and the dying deal with dying and bereavement.
    As you say, you must talk about it. The what ifs are scary, but having never mentioned them is terrifying.

  14. Kevin and I have talked about it and made things legal and I feel very comfortable for him speaking for me (and I hope I never have to speak for him). It was actually one of those moments when I felt my family shifting because I realized I would WANT him to make those decisions for me rather than my parents.

    Where I am actually struggling with this is with our siblings. Both Kevin’s brother and my sister have kids and I presume we are the guardians in case something happens to them (I know we are for my sister and assume we are for Kevin’s brother). But no one has done a will or a living trust nor do they have life insurance that will cover college.

    If it is hard to talk about with your partner, it is really hard to talk about with anyone else. I’ve tried to bring it up only to get completely shut down (It is definitely hard to think about). The chances are slim and I hope against hope the worst doesn’t happen but it does worry me that we will have a legal battle for the kids (against an in-law’s cousin who is worried we’ll take the kids away from that side). Or that we will suddenly need to pay for three kids’ college educations. As a PSA, if you are a parent, you should get this stuff done.

    1. I had never ever thought of this before (only child), but YES. That is something for sure you would need in writing. I always knew that if something were to happen to my parents while I was growing up I was headed to my grandmother’s house (on my mom’s side). But I would BEG to be sent to my mom’s best friend’s household. hahaha! She had kids and I desperately wanted siblings.

  15. We’ve actually talked about it a lot too. My mom works with the advanced elderly, so I was already used to talking about it with her. Knowing that Tony knows exactly what I want (& that I have it written down) makes me much more comfortable with the whole idea of it too.

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