I was on-call for Hospice on Labor Day. A situation that I had to deal with was a little surreal. The patient was 41. He was the father of three kids (ages 5, 7 and 10) and the husband of a 35 year old wife.
One of her very first questions for me was: “When is he going to die? Because the kids and I have tickets out of here to Arizona when he does.”
And then there was this, in regards to the 5 year old boy: “No one has told him that his father is going to die. Could you, please? Oh, and he has big plans to be a doctor someday – so go ahead and explain it to him on a medical level if you want to – – he’s really curious about that kind of stuff.”
When I was trying to explain her husbands prognosis and what she could expect as his condition declines – – she was shoving her daughters first place horse jumping ribbons in my face and telling me about a competition that they have next week, in Arizona, and asking me if her husband would be gone by then?
I understand denial. I also fully understand repressed grief. This was just really… very … odd.