The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Stages of Coping With a Terminal Illness


It's a shame you can't ride this one out right up to the end. When I'm lying in bed at night and I'm suddenly clenched in the grip of the terrible knowledge of my own inevitable mortality, my usual coping mechanism is to assume I'm going to get hit by a bus. Assuming the bus driver is competent enough to kill me instantly, that relieves me of any need to acknowledge the possibility that I might not live to see Alpha Centauri colonized or leg warmers come back into fashion. A


Perfectly understandable for the corpse-in-training, but this has got to be a big pain for various loved ones, caretakers, and pharmacists. Not only is the sickie in question acting like a big jerk, propriety keeps those in attendance from saying "Look. Do us all a favor. Lay down, shut up, and metastasize."

"Do not go gently into that good night" sounds all well and good when you're popping by to get some poetic inspiration, but I imagine at some point most of the survivors would like the dying person to at least go, if not gently, then at least reasonably politely. C-


Is this the right word? "Bargaining," to me, implies a sort of back-and-forth negotation. This stage, instead, involves paying unlicensed medical practitioners to do a song-and-dance involving chicken blood and speaking in tongues, and/or desperately performing the sorts of nice, pious neighborly acts you probably should have been doing all along.

While I find a certain amount of inexplicable charm in the idea of God saying "Look, you want this brain tumor in remission, and I want to give you that. I really do. But you're going to have to do better than a couple bags of canned goods," I think the more precise term for this stage is "Grasping at straws." D


Also understandable. Hell, in this day and age any perfectly healthy person with access to cable television has a right to be depressed. The knowledge that in a short while you're going to be pushing up neatly cropped cemetary grass while those you love get to go on having ice cream and picking out new sweaters and--worst of all--eventually getting over your death, well even the thought of it is getting me sort of down.

Hint to photographers bucking for a Pulitzer: this is the best stage to get your shots in. The slack jaw and air of resignation, the concerned, hand-patting family, the neatly tucked sheets--it's pure gold, baby! C


I'm glad to see that this is the final stage. It would be a bummer if "Acceptance" was followed by "Regret" or "Karaoke." As it is, though, your archetypical bucket-kicker gets to spend his or her last few days or hours or picoseconds appreciating birdsong and working on a catchy tombstone motto. They still end up equally dead, though. B

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