I've been single all my life and have no children I'm aware of. I never got the personal relationship thing down very well so have journeyed through life by myself. As I find myself in a situation where my death will come with family in attendance I realize that my death is as much about them as it is about me. While I have specific goals about my end of life, others around me hold vastly different views and the best way I can acknowledge their viewpoint is to accept (to a certain extent) what they wish to do.
An old friend offered up the idea of cutting edge treatments as a way to prolong things, which brought me back to my original goal of quality versus quantity, I'm more interested in the best quality and not necessarily quantity. I was also asked recently “do you have Jesus” by a well meaning hospital technician. While I suspect some hospital regulations were transgressed with that statement I can understand it in the context in which it occurred (they were looking at images of my enlarged tumor filled liver and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the problems) and do not begrudge them, but did find it distressing at the time (I'm working on the post on the spiritual aspects of this journey to put this in context).
Then on to family, I had hoped my end would happen quickly out on the landscape in New Mexico and had even discussed this possibility with my sister but that was not to be the case. Friends knew that if they saw buzzards circling over the estate, they should stop by and check on me (it is only 1 person/square mile out here). So, I formally asked permission from my brother-in-law to die in his home since I was sort of invading his space when he and my sister came and picked me up in Rodeo. Although I didn't need to ask (permission was implied) I still felt it was the right thing to do since this is an open ended proposition and I'm though I know where it ends I'm not sure how this adventure will progress. I was given formal permission but could see he was uncomfortable with the notion. My brother-in-law would prefer that I chose palliative chemotherapy to extract as much time as possible but has chosen to honor my wishes in this matter which I appreciate, and suggested we go ahead and order a hospital bed from hospice to make the transition to reduced mobility easier. We have had several “man to man” discussions which consist of “you know what I mean?” “yea I know what you mean” and I do. They are typical of males discussing uncomfortable topics one to one. My sister is completely supportive but has admitted this experience is creating a situation where she too is re-evaluating some of her notions including those that are are currently inline with mine With my mother it is hard to tell, she is 82 with some slight dementia (don't tell her I said anything) but I set aside some time with her, just the 2 of us, so she could express any misgivings or thoughts about this path I'm headed down. She expressed little except to concur when I said it was unfair to her to have to bury a child.
I conclude from these interactions that empathy on my part is a useful tool in this process, tying to understand the situation I'm in from the perspective of others. Since we all see the world differently, a topic I've explored through photography, empathy has suddenly become an up close and personal issue in this new journey.