How to live with dying

For Dianna Jones, living with her diagnosis of advanced bowel cancer with a prognosis of two years made her able to appreciate some things, and actually cultivated a gratefulness. ‘I’m not grateful that I’m going to die, soon, but I’m grateful I know. That’s what I’m grateful for, that I have the knowledge and therefore I’ve got time to prepare.’

For many who receive a terminal diagnosis, this new time pressure on their lives can bring about a real focus on what they want to achieve, a fresh realisation of just how precious time is. For Dianna this was also true and she soon knew what she wanted to invest her time in.

‘Since the diagnosis … my focus has been on what I’m going to do in that time, like replan my garden which I’ve started. And what I can do to help the others, when I’m gone. Which is get my affairs in order and that keeps me going, it gives me a positive focus and a goal. I feel much more organised now than I did when I was drifting along before.’

Living with dying

There is of course natural sadness and emotional distress in the process of living with dying too. For many this is to do with the relationships that they know they will have to leave behind, for Dianna this was her granddaughter. ‘I am sad that I won’t see my granddaughter grow, if I dwell on it and I only dwell on it when I’m with her. When I’m not with her, I try not to think about it.’

In ‘A Practical Guide to The Spiritual Care of the Dying Person’ a document written by many hospital chaplains, they acknowledged that having peace with our relationships is an important part of the process. ‘Dying is a complex process because it entails the whole of us, especially our relationships, not just our bodies.’

For Dr Warren, seeing to her broken relationships with friends was part of what she wanted to focus on after receiving her diagnosis. ‘I have time to prepare for dying—for example, by giving away things I don’t need, doing things I love but may have neglected, and renewing relationships with old friends. Healing unresolved conflicts in relationships and ensuring that I am comfortable with my relationships before I die.’

It is frequently remarked that no one’s deathbed regrets are not spending more time working, and that it is always the unsaid relational matters that come to the fore at the end of our lives. Fr Nelson Medina OP, compiled a list of the deathbed regrets he had heard and they were all to do with interpersonal matters. From ‘for the promises I didn’t fulfil’ to ‘for the times I took too long to forgive others and didn’t make a big enough effort to do it faster’ – it shows that we seem to have a lot left to repair when death draws near.

Ultimately, although an immensely difficult time, preparing for death can give focus to whatever time we have left, and can drive us to both rediscover what is meaningful to us and to make peace with those we know.

relational matters that come to the fore at the end of our lives. Fr Nelson Medina OP, compiled a list of the deathbed regrets he had heard and they were all to do with interpersonal matters. From ‘for the promises I didn’t fulfil’ to ‘for the times I took too long to forgive others and didn’t make a big enough effort to do it faster’ – it shows that we seem to have a lot left to repair when death draws near.

Ultimately, although an immensely difficult time, preparing for death can give focus to whatever time we have left, and can drive us to both rediscover what is meaningful to us and to make peace with those we know.

Courtesy ; https://www.artofdyingwell.org