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Making the Most of Every Day

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 29 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Terminal Illness Terminally Ill Living

If we were wise, every one of us would behave as though our time here is limited, which of course, it is. Unfortunately, many of us act as if we have all the time in the world until something makes us stop and reconsider our choices. The diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness, for many people, provides just such a wake-up call.

Establishing Priorities

In today’s busy world, it is not uncommon for people to rush through their days, just trying to keep up with all of their many commitments. The problem is that those days quickly turn into months and even years, with time passing in a blur. Adults are often surprised at just how quickly time goes by, especially when they think back on the summers of their childhoods, which seemed to last and last. The difference is entirely one of perception, of course; days have always been comprised of 24 hours each, but children have the innate ability to relish their time, make fun a priority, and never consider it wasteful to lie back on the grass and study the clouds. Those same children, once grown, often fail to see the value in activities that don’t result in a paycheck.

Too often, we focus our energies on everything but the things that matter most. After diagnosis, though, priorities are bound to be reshuffled, with the truly important stuff finally making its way to the top of the list. Somehow, petty arguments and everyday worries become less pressing, with a commitment to living well being the main goal. While every person’s priorities will vary a bit, many people find that the most important things turn out not to be things at all, but people and experiences.

Things Left Undone

Most of us have lists of things that we hope to do, but we often put off doing them for a variety of reasons. We tell ourselves that we will travel “someday” or we avoid certain activities that sound fun because we think we may appear silly or we don’t love the way we look in a swimsuit. Since “someday” may never come, postponing pleasure, especially out of fear, seems especially unwise, a lesson that the terminally ill have learned the hard way. Everyone, even the healthiest amongst us, should take note and strive to live our lives in ways that would leave us with few regrets, should we discover our time here to be shorter than we had imagined. Sitting down with a pen and paper to make a list of things yet to be done, both large and small, is a good exercise for everyone, but especially the terminally ill. Checking those things off the list should provide a sense of accomplishment – and hopefully make the last part of life the most fun and memorable of all.

Things Left Unsaid

Even worse than leaving a list of activities that one never experienced would be leaving friends and family members that never got to hear how much they meant. Many people hold back on expressing their feelings, possibly fearing that the sentiments won’t be returned. Maybe they’ve simply learned to be uncomfortable with emotional displays – many people are. In any case, the knowledge that one is faced with a short life span may make it easier for people to express their love and appreciation to those who matter most.

Life is short. Even if we live to be one hundred, there are bound to be things that we never found time to do and people whom we cared for, but somehow failed to tell. If there is one good thing that comes from the diagnosis of a terminal illness, it just may be the realisation that no one should postpone enjoying the best things in life. Tomorrow may be uncertain, but today is ours to live.

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Feeling very confusued as my parents health declines , and the anger that my parent is displaying towards me , asking for my help and then being very shoret and abrupt with me when you try to do what is asked . I wonder if they are intentioally driving me away .
silversearch - 29-Mar-13 @ 9:21 AM
Hi-Please help. Is there a support group for family members of those that are caring for a terminally ill partner in the Bloomington, Indiana area? Thank You, Tina
Lady Jade - 18-Feb-13 @ 5:33 PM
Thankyou for these pages. I am caring for a lovely lady who is battling cancer very bravely. She is also coping with a husband who will not hear of anything other than a cure,and will not entertain any mention of the alternative. This is aided and abetted by her oncologist whom I have worked for indirectly for years. The scraps we have had as nurses trying to get a realistic and humane resus status are too numerous..........and of course while there is life,there is hope. Albeit,he leaves no stone unturned,and no avenue unexplored. It saddens me to know that she has the weight of his denial at a time when she craves honesty and support,but such things are beyond my remit,sadly. I am gently encouraging her to share wishes,memories,have family and friends visit on good days etc,but often run out of solutions. Thankyou again,Clare
fuzzypeg - 10-Nov-12 @ 6:47 PM
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