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Ask HN: What would you do with your last days?
24 points by xupybd 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments
My father is dieing. He has terminal lung cancer and had undiagnosed symptoms for months. That meant his quality of life was pretty bad. Thanks to palliative chemo and radiation he has a few months ahead that should see him temporarily feeling much better.

With the days he is not recovering from chemo he gardens and cleans up the house. It made me wonder what would I do in his shoes?

This last little bit of life, while difficult, is bringing him a lot of joy. Initially I thought it seemed like a waste of precious little time. But he gets to experience a little of the retirement he was only a year away from and it means a lot to him.

Now I'm trying to figure out how you measure a good use of your time. Is it really so important to invest so much time and effort in a vocation? Is it just as valid to find things that make us happy?

We're not in very different situation - in fact we can be literally minutes, days, weeks or months before our time is out. We all know that we're going to die at some point, but we live with attitude - "but, not today". So when we find out when we're going to be dead, we change our perspective.

What I would/will do? First of all - say goodbye to all people I know. If we were in bad terms for whatever reasons - I would try to say my farewell knowing I apologised for what I did and forgive for what was done to me. I'd like to have clean head from human affairs on my last breath.

Then - I'll go to reconcile with God. Maybe first time in my life truly and honestly. I'm a believer in Jesus Christ so this will be best and last time for it.

After that - I would spent all the left time on being with my dearest one. Talk to them, hug them, take tons of photos. And also - this is what I plan for some time - write a long letter to each of my dearest, telling them how much I love them, how much I received from them, how much they mean to me, how wonderful people they are in my eyes.

And when the time comes, when it'll be the last breath - I really hope God will came for my soul and we all meet once again.

There are these diaries with preformulated questions where your dad could write answers to. Most of these questions are cheesy, but that isn't important.

"Who was your first love?", "Where did you meet your wife?", "what was your dream job as a child?" that kind of thing.

I found them extremely interesting to read since people tend to write more than they say or would casually mention. I think it also helped the writer as it lessened the fear that things were left unsaid.

Otherwise if he enjoys his routine, maybe it is the most important thing to do right now.

If your Father is capable of answering these questions (mine wasn't, due to vascular dementia) then I'd strongly advocate this approach.

And, if possible, record his answers, either just audio, or also video, whatever is easier/more comfortable.

I have tons of photos that include my late parents, but videos and audio recordings of them are precious.

first, i'm sorry to hear about your dad. that's really rough but i'm glad you'll get to spend a few months with him to say goodbye.

second, i'd probably spend all my time writing hundreds of letters to my family and friends for future holidays, birthdays, etc. lots of conditional letters like "don't open until you [get married, have your first child, get a new job, feel hopeless]".

most of us don't get to leave that great an impact on our planet during the short time that we have here but having your thoughts and compassion available to your loved ones when it's needed--even when you're gone--will reverberate through time.

That is a fantastic idea

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

I just want to mention this, and you may have already done it - make sure you get a second opinion on the diagnosis. With the constant advancement in treatment, many previously terminal diagnoses may be survivable today and you want to make sure the doctor isn't missing any of the new treatment options.

I think stage 4 used to be considered terminal, but there are patients who survive it now. One that comes to mind was the mother of Gary Lincoff (or was it Paul Stamets). She had stage 4 breast cancer and is in remission after her trametes versicolor augmented chemo regimen. So there's stuff out there which is still in trials that could extend his time even further. Stuff like the trametes versicolor can even be available to you without a prescription.

I'd go over my photo album and write blog posts describing the little things I enjoyed about selected pictures. Starting from the oldest pictures.

With that, I hope to pass on the spirit of "cherishing the little moments in life."

Most likely I would revisit the memories/things that made me happy and try to be a saint or a demon to those who truly deserve either.

I would probably try to read some short works on Zen Buddhism. Zen, in my experience, is all about appreciating so-called boring moments in life, like washing the dishes, weeding the garden, and so on. Better to end your life with a quiet happiness than in a YOLO, frenzied attempt to finish your bucket list.

I would tidy my affairs, buy a bunch of beers, create a bonfire in the country, and invite whoever I wanted to see to sit at my fire.

Tell some stories, have a lot of laughs, tell people I love them.

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