When we think of the emotions surrounding death and dying traditionally we think of sadness, of fear, of emotional turmoil and of grief. I wonder if there might be another way of thinking about it. Obviously this won’t be for everyone and I respect however anybody going through this journey wants to feel. I do not mean to trivialise it, just to describe one of my coping mechanisms.
Chris and I were enjoying a quiet evening in together last night; not something that happens all that frequently these days with the busy lives we both lead. A lovely dinner and a couple of glasses of wine later and I asked “would it be fat to have another bun for pudding?” Chris replied to this without blinking an eye “yes but you’re dying darling so does it really matter?” We both then fell about hysterically laughing. It was one of those genuinely funny moments in life where you laugh so hard you cry and your abdominal muscles hurt. But how can that be? Some might say a joke about a 31 year old that faces the reality of her own mortality in the foreseeable future is distasteful.
Well I’d answer that question with the fact that I am a fun loving individual. I always have been. I enjoy a joke as much as the next girl and one way I have of coping with what my future holds is by using my sense of humour. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely wasn’t making jokes on day one but soon after I started to use humour to help me get through the day.
How does this manifest? Well anyone who works with me will know that my standard response to a “how are you doing?” question is a smiley “still alive and kicking thank you!” I constantly talk about “when I pop my clogs” or “when I’m pushing up the daisies”. I think some people around me were shocked by this attitude and language at first, but it’s amazing how infectious it is and how it normalises this huge life event that is approaching for me.
For example my boss recently asked “what are you up to this weekend Kate?” to which I replied “off to Amsterdam for a loved up weekend with the husband.” The exchange continued “you really do have a fantastic quality of life don’t you?” My response to this was “well apart from the fact I’m dying of cancer!” The boss “well yes I suppose there is that…” We both laughed. Mum shares the dark sense of humour. She bought me an expensive handbag a few months ago. When I said she’d spent too much money on me, her quick and witty reply was “well you won’t be needing your inheritance will you!”
Having a good laugh always makes me feel better and I am absolutely sure that my positive attitude has helped me to remain well without treatment for such a prolonged period of time. I really hope I can take the humour with me to my death bed and continue it right until the final moments of life. I was incredibly impressed by the Twitter response suggesting an appropriate hash tag for me to live tweet my final days and hours. Fellow tweeps have clearly picked up on my sense of humour with suggestions like #deathbedlive, #goinggoinggone and #toinfinityandbeyond. However I also received many tweets asking if I was serious. In answer to those people I am ‘deadly’ serious about it! I think it would be a very useful learning experience for everyone and you never know it might even trend!!