Coming to terms with death is something most humans end up tacckling at some point.
When diagnosed with a terminal illness, that reckoning is usually on an accelerated time table.
But what responsibility—if any—does a terminally ill person have toward the friends and family they'll leave behind?
If their lived ones want to do something to comfort themselves about the impending death, does the dying person need to go along with it?
A Redditor didn't think so. But others disagreed.
So they consulted the "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
Redditor radarblaze asked:
"AITA for not wanting to participate in a 'living funeral' for myself before I die this year?"
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
"I have a genetic condition and since the diagnosis, many years ago, it's been all but certain I wouldn't pass of natural causes."
"I'm in my mid 60s, I've had a great life and I've done all the big things I hoped to do. I'm dealing just fine and need no sympathy."
"Doctors confirmed a few months ago that the end stages had set in and I began making the arrangements."
"My family very badly wants me to participate in a thing called a 'living funeral', or 'pre-funeral', where you gather (on Zoom in this case) as though it is the actual funeral and give speeches and such but the subject (me) is still alive to witness it all."
"They've put a lot of thought and care into the planning of the funeral ceremony and apparently seem to feel it would be much more therapeutic for them to do the main portion while I am still here."
"Even still, I... really just don't want to do that. It sounds awful. It sounds emotionally devastating and like it would rip the peace I've made with everything I'm leaving behind right out from under me."
"My family is still pushing for this, especially because with the pandemic, it may be that a lot of people won't have seen me in a year when I pass."
"They want to take the opportunity to give a forum to people to say what they need to say to me and make peace with me and commune with me and feel it won't be nearly as cathartic if I am not there as it would be to do it while I am still alive."
"I could really benefit from some insight here. Because there's a really valid argument that I'll deal with the fallout of the pre-funeral for a few months at worst, and they'll deal with the emotional fall out of not having had one for years."
"Am I the a**hole for refusing to participate in this nice ceremony they're trying to put together for me?"
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- NAH - No A**holes Here
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole.
"NTA. There's this theory I read about when I had cancer: Ring theory."
"Briefly summarized, when dealing with people who are struggling with something, you cannot ask them to sympathize with how hard their situation is for YOU. You support the person having the problem and look for support for yourself elsewhere."
"You are not obliged to comfort anyone else about your imminent death. If those people who haven't seen you in a year want to see you before you pass, they should shoot you a text."
"Anything that people feel the need to say, they can put into a text or email or phone conversation."
"You would have to deal with the fallout from your funeral for the rest of your life. Your friends and family will have to cope with grief whether you sit still for this zoom call or not."
"At that point, they will have to comfort each other, which is what a funeral is for: for the living to comfort each other. Catharsis is something they will have to achieve without you." ~ eaca02124
"It's literally your funeral. In my opinion, you should be the one to decide what happens. NTA." ~ im_waffles
"They're not thinking about OP. They're thinking about themselves and how they feel, how good it will be for them to tell OP how much they'll be missed and how loved they are with pretty words."
"I kinda wonder if they want validation from OP. Like if their speeches were so moving, so beautiful OP can't help but say something about it." ~ Beserked2
"So these people want to hold an event to honor your death while you're still alive and are offended that you won't let them have closure about YOUR death?"
"NTA. It has been my experience that funerals are more for the living than those who passed on, and boy is this proof of that!"
"If they want closure, then they can individually send you a letter or give you a call. Their behavior regarding something you have expressed discomfort with is absolutely entitled and wrong."
"Seriously. There is nothing OK with the view of 'hey, I know you're dying, and that's terrible and all, but have you considered MY feelings?'."
"I am so sorry that all of this is happening OP. It might be best to point out that by trying to honor your life they are not honoring your wishes." ~ Check3_4
"Absolutely NTA. That's really morbid and sounds depressing AF."
"If anything, I'd suggest compromising with having get togethers on Zoom with different people where you can discuss how you're both doing, good memories, things like that."
"Keep it happy and whatnot. You shouldn't have to participate in anything that you don't want to do that makes you feel uncomfortable."
"Them trying to force this on you is them making it about their feelings, etc, and that's not fair to you." ~ Mockingbird626
While the OP's friends and family definitely mean well, is it worth the limited time the OP has left to spend some of it doing something they're so uncomfortable with?
Reddit agreed with the OP that their remaining time is precious and needs to be their own.