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How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Created: 01/28/15

Replies: 19

Posted Jan. 28, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Leon, having nearly died twice already, lives with the acute awareness of his mortality; it's not until the end of the book that he seems to really live. How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?


Posted Feb. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lorik

Join Date: 08/25/14

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Although it seems that a person would want to do big, bold things that they've never done before, I think I would spend the time doing meaningful things with the people I love and care about. I would also want to leave something behind that made a difference.

Some of my cherished family members and friends travel to where I live a lot, and I haven't traveled to where they live. I would take the time to go to the places they live and see how they spend their time and life and treasure that time together.


Posted Feb. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amyw

Join Date: 03/12/13

Posts: 12

RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I think I would take the time to be with family and friends. Possibly travel but mostly spend time with the people I love. Make the most of the time I had left.


Posted Feb. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I would opt out of any heroic measures. I would try to be sure I was as comfortable as possible. I would continue to live my life pretty much as I do, focusing on family and friends. I would try to make sure that I communicated every important thing to those I care about and I would try to help others see the time as a positive experience.


Posted Feb. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

That's a question I don't like to think about. I know I'd be depressed since I am afraid to die. I'd hope my memory book of early-day stories would be finished for my grandchildren. Traveling to exotic shores or foreign countries would be out of the question. I don't care much for traveling while living, let alone while dying! I'd call my old friends and say goodbye and tell them not to bother coming to see me at the end.

A very hard thought to even consider.


Posted Feb. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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lianned

Join Date: 03/19/14

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

First, I would try to see it as a blessing that I can have this time before dying. Not all of us get to know exactly when we will die. I would spend time with family and friends, but not be melodramatic. Part of living is knowing that someday, sadly, we will be gone. I would write letters or make videos for my kids to tell them how wonderful they are and that I will always be with them in spirit.


Posted Feb. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I hope I would continue to be contented in my life and enjoy each day as it comes. I have no desire to live to a particularly old age if I become incapable of functioning normally and taking care of myself. My biggest fear is becoming a burden to my family which I really do not want to do.


Posted Feb. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanj

Join Date: 06/18/11

Posts: 25

RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I would feel very sad to miss out on my grandchildren's growing up. If I had a period of good health, I would like to visit family where they live. I would have trouble dealing with everyone's sadness if they knew I was dying, so I don't know how much I'd share. I'd love to pay for a family get-together somewhere so that we could all have some positive lasting memories.


Posted Feb. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianes

Join Date: 05/16/11

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I would surround myself with my family as much as possible and try to read as many books as I could.


Posted Feb. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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mary annb

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 16

RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I honestly don't know how I would feel, but when Leon was realizing his set amount of time, I thought, it was better not knowing when you are to die. It is cliché, but I do try to live each day as it comes. Having said that, there are things I'd like to do, but don't push myself to do them. The question would be if I had a finite amount of time would I try to do these things. In the end, you just want to be around people you love, and hopefully you have that in your life.


Posted Feb. 16, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I listened to a radio program recently about how it goes when doctors give terminal cancer patients a specific amount of time they likely have to live. Some people prefer not to know fearing it is more of a "best by" date like there is on a jug of milk. Some are afraid their bodies -- knowing this -- would simply sabotage any efforts to live longer. Families always seem to want to know. I think that is kind of creepy but I can see the practical side of it so far as making sure their loved one's (assuming their family loves them) wishes are set. What people -- I -- didn't realize is that those dates that doctors give are medians. That is, it is a date by which fifty percent of similar patients will die and fifty will live beyond. Truthfully they do not know with any degree of certainty.

I am not sure I would even want to know if it was very far (say, longer than a month) off. I wouldn't want to live with that specter hanging over my head, as if I must be required to do something grand or heroic. Along those lines I do not have a so-called "bucket list" either. I really do try to live each moment and see the the beauty and humor in every experience. I try to tell those I love that I love them very frequently. My kids, I fear, might be getting sick of hearing it. I also try to tell people as soon as possible how important they are in my life; thanking them for being who they are and doing whatever it is they have done. I like to do this writing so they have it to look at on bad days. I have never regretted saying thank you to anyone.

My father knew he had about one week to live and spent his conscious moments accepting -- like a head of state -- visits and calls from family and friends who wanted to say goodbye. He was gracious and maintained his sense of humor throughout. I would wish I had as many people that loved me and would come to call on me when that final week comes. He was twice the person I am. But he spent his final week on this mortal coil as he would have always wished; surrounded by laughing, loving family and friends.

Do you have a bucket list?


Posted Feb. 17, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 27

RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Good question! I would want to know how much time I had left...I think I would live it the same way I do now, but reaching out to people who have meant a lot to me, helped me along, inspired me, made a difference and tell them how much they meant. Given that there are no guarantees for any of us, I should just be going ahead and doing that, shouldn't I?

However, I also think we don't know how we would act until we are faced with the reality of a terminal diagnosis.


Paula J
Posted Feb. 18, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I think a lot of us have asked ourselves this question. Sometimes it has led me to career changes, asking: If I had 5 years left to live, would I want to be doing this? I agree with other people who said they would want to know how MUCH time is left. Is there time to return to Paris? to do a safari? Or is there only enough time to call friends and family to say goodbye and write a handwritten letter to some young people who are dear to us. (An e mail is not the same). Surely this question ha to be hanging over Leon's head all the time - - and perhaps THIS is the answer to the discussion question as to why he agreed to ever go meet Rhona in the first place.


Posted Feb. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

I think Oliver Sacks's op-ed in today's NY Times, in which he reveals that he has terminal cancer, is interesting:

"I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends....I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming. This is not indifference but detachment -- I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opinion/oliver-sacks-on-learning-he-has-terminal-cancer.html


Posted Feb. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
leew

Join Date: 07/18/13

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Spent the time left with family and friends, that was the way my father spent his last month. It was beautiful to watch him speak wisdom to his grandsons, just tell to them in person how much he loved them and how proud he was of them. It all boils down to how well we love each other. Nothing else is lasting.


Posted Feb. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Spend as much time as possible with my children, travel to the places I have been putting off, eat lots of chocolate!


Posted Feb. 22, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 27

RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Well, I took my own advice...it is my birthday, and soon to be my father's 80th birthday. And ever since I answered this question, I've been thinking about thanking people and telling them how much they have meant to me. Being a severe introverted type, I would never get out everything in person I would want to say. So I wrote a very personal letter to my father of everything good in my life and myself that he helped promote, what I remembered about him from growing up, and appreciation. Certainly made me misty as I was writing it, as it probably will him to read it. But I'm a very strong believer that "life is short" and I shouldn't put off the important things, because there is no guarantee the time will be there for all the things on the list of "someday I'll do that". Someday I will run out of somedays, and I don't want to regret things I should have done.


Paula J
Posted Feb. 24, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Paula - I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you sharing this. I'm so glad you were able to write to your father, and you're absolutely right that life is short.


Posted Feb. 25, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanj

Join Date: 06/18/11

Posts: 25

RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Thank you, Davina, for alerting us to the Oliver Sacks op-ed piece which has stuck with me ever since I read it. I have checked out two of his books from the library (one I've read before), and my book group has decided to read one of his books this spring. I can't wait to read his autobiography to be published in April.
His message affirms what my husband and I are in the process of doing: getting rid of much of our stuff and moving to a place we love even more than our current location. How I wish our children loved old things as much as we do! We have managed to get them to take many inherited items, but there is still much to sell and donate. It's a difficult process, but I know we'll be happy in the end, especially if one of us receives the news that there isn't much time left.


Posted Mar. 01, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
deeh

Join Date: 03/03/12

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RE: How would you feel and what would you do if you knew you didn't have much time left to live?

Thank you, Davina, for the quote from Oliver Sacks. I agree with his choices about no longer agonizing over current events.

While I do not, to my knowledge, have a terminal disease, I am in my 70s and have been taking stock of my life. I take time at the end of each day to sit and find something from the day to be grateful for. I have to remind myself now and then not to agonize over choices I have made. This day is over and tomorrow I can make different choices if need be. I tell my family and my friends that I love them and am grateful for their presence in my life. Another thing I do is savor the moment – I am drinking tea that tastes and smells wonderful and the sun is shining on the field where my horses are grazing – and this moment is perfect. I don't think I would do anything differently if I received a terminal diagnosis.


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