After-the-Death-Diagnosis—Nothing to Say?
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do,” the neurologist said after examining the latest CT scan results of Mom’s brain.
We hadn’t prepared for this moment. Hope, faith, and a willingness to fight the good fight hadn’t allowed us to even consider this possibility. Wouldn’t that have meant preparing for failure? Wouldn’t that have meant we weren’t thinking positively when Mom was undergoing radiation treatment? And wouldn’t that have meant not encouraging Mom while she was in physical therapy?
Before-the-death-diagnosis, I had learned all about Mom’s brain cancer. I was familiar with each and every medication she was taking. I knew her painful and demoralizing physical therapy routines by heart. And I had been a witness to the ravaging effects of radiation on her body and appearance.
In our first breaths after–the-death-diagnosis, none of that mattered anymore. None of it. In the hours and days immediately following a death diagnosis, don’t be surprised if you don’t know quite what to say because of what is stolen from you.
The word ‘cancer’ disappeared into thin air. The type, scope, and origins of Mom’s cancer no longer mattered. And the word ‘when’ was stripped from my vocabulary. ‘When Mom gets better.’ ‘When the tumors reduce in size.’ ‘When a miracle happens.’ ‘When she gains her strength back.’ ‘When she’s able to walk again.’ ‘When she looks like herself again.’ Now, when was useless.
For the first time in months, there was no other place to be. There were no more doctors to call. No more appointments to make. There was no point in enduring suffering in the name of improvement. It was just Mom…nothing else. What could we talk about when so much had been taken away?