I really get on people’s nerves insisting on families facing death straight on, but I have a lot of experience with this issue. I never got over the fact that a family member that I dearly loved when I was nineteen was dying for six months and none of us ever got to tell her good-bye. We just kept pretending that she was going to get well again even though her brain was eaten up with cancer. Most of her family wouldn't even come to the hospital to see her because they just didn't know how to act. How horrible is that?
When we thought Richard was dying while he was in a ten-day coma, I got into all kinds of trouble with one of our physician friends by making jokes about him at his bedside. The way I figured it is that if we can hear while we're in a coma, we'd feel a lot less scared of our future if we heard our loved ones laughing than if they were all weeping over us.
After Richard woke up, we still knew he would die without a heart transplant, but he made me promise that I wouldn't get mushy (he called it maudlin) about it. Me maudlin? As controlled as I am emotionally? We spent the one-year plus waiting time getting his affairs in order.
Another friend of ours was recently facing a good chance of imminent death. She chose to laugh about the fact that her husband would no longer have to worry about how she'd handle their financial affairs if he predeceased her. Neither her husband nor her children could see the humor in her situation, but I was blessed to be the one she chose to share in this little laugh.
When one of my people is hurting, I'll cook for them, clean for them, cry with them. But it seems that the people who will help them party their way to Paradise are few and far between. It's a tough job, but if somebody's gotta do it, I'm glad it can be me.