It is a question we have often discussed among ourselves. Is it easier to deal with the sudden death of your soul mate or to have warning and deal with a lingering illness? There are no easy answers.
But what about a combination of the two alternatives? How would you feel if you discovered in their last hours that your soul mate had a terminal illness and had chosen not to tell you they were dying?
Last night I was watching a television program where one main storyline revolved around this issue. Thinking he was protecting his wife, the man who was dying tried his best to keep it from her. Of course, as inevitably happens with such illnesses, his condition worsened to a point where he had to be hospitalized and he could no longer hide it. Typical of television stories, they quickly reconciled his deception and spent his remaining time in a form of bliss. It felt incredibly false to me. But then it was television.
I found myself angry with the character for denying his wife the time she may have needed to come to grips with losing him and to say goodbye properly. Was I wrong to feel that way? Not having personally been through that depth of loss, I don’t know. But I think that I would have felt a whole gamut of emotions – betrayed, heartbroken and angry most of all – but reluctant to tell him how I truly felt in his final hours. That in itself, I think, would be a form of dishonesty that has no place in a relationship between soul mates. What a sad legacy to have to carry beyond that ultimate separation. And then once he was gone, I would have still been left to sort through all the feelings. I suspect healing would take forever.
Dying is the one thing we are guaranteed we will have to do alone. No one can do it for us. But I have to ask what possible benefit could come from choosing to reach that point alone as well. So I would like to know your feelings on this. Which is easier for the one left behind? Knowing or not knowing what was coming? Sudden departure or lingering illness? And if in fact there is a lingering illness with no hope of recovery, would you want to know so you could make the most together of the time your loved one has left on this plane? Or would you prefer to have your last time together untainted by the specter of death approaching the door?