The subject of death and dying is a difficult one to deal with. Reality and emotions are difficult to mesh when we have to deal with the loss of loved ones. Regardless of whether the loss was unexpected or we knew it was coming it is always a deep felt loss. A young person dying in a car accident or an older person dying from mesothelioma, the loss is equally felt by families, friends and the entire community.
We all understand that the one certainty in life is that we are all going to die. No one gets a pass on that one. No matter what we do, how we fight, how we prepare, how much we ignore that fact, it will happen. No one gets out alive.
When we are confronted with our own mortality, what we know in our heads, is different than what we know in our hearts. We all know mesothelioma is a deadly disease, but we expect to have some warning that the end is near. Unfortunately, just recently, two mesothelioma patients died unexpectedly.
One of the patients was scheduled to go home from the hospital the next day. He had surgery and had been doing very well when an unexpected complication quickly led to his death. Despite everything being done, everyone’s best efforts, he died.
The other patient had a long complicated course. However, he had had the maximum support and he seemed to have turned the corner. He was feeling better, no pain and he was finally able to go home with his family. He was home for a week, directing how he wanted things done, enjoying his beloved home and family, and he felt good. At the end of the week, he began to have difficulty breathing after he developed another complication. Again, despite the medical team’s best efforts, he died.
Both deaths left their families and the mesothelioma care team devastated. What could have we done differently? Why did it happen? Why now? The families were left questioning their decisions. Was it the best decision to choose this course of treatment? The decisions that they made with their loved ones were magnified and reviewed again and again.
There are no magic answers, no phrases to alleviate the pain and loss that the families are feeling. We do know that every time a mesothelioma patient dies, the mesothelioma team is affected. A review is held, decisions are reviewed, and patients are remembered as people with families and loved ones, not as mesothelioma victims.
Loss also renews the conviction to continue to fight for the mesothelioma victims, continue to work harder towards a cure. Enjoy today for tomorrow is promised to none of us.