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Making Up

By Theresa
Posted on

I wish I had the conversation with my sibling.

At about this time in November 2017, having signed my brother’s discharge from hospital after his doctors had determined “there’s nothing more on our shelves”, I officially became his frontline provider of “psychosocial oncologic care” — a name for meeting needs of people living with cancer which, in my brother’s case, was end stage prostate cancer.

Working at home with support of professional hospice care givers, I wish I knew then what I know now about end-of-life care; I wish I knew more about the limits of medical science and the health system about which it operates.

I wish I were more proactive in soliciting my brother’s world view — his hopes and fears, his wishes, his meaning-making — rather than being the passive, timid responder waiting for cues from him, that I have become.

I wish I knew more about the conjunctions of mortality and the good life.

Thus, by way of making up for a personal shortfall — and ease the continuing grief over my brother’s loss — I have started conversations on mortality, the better to grapple with its inevitability and linking it to day-to-day life.

Called “Conversations on Mortality and the Good Life”, it has drawn favorable comments from retired educators, professional health care providers, and even family carers who I chat up in hospital waiting rooms as I wait for a nephew to finish a dialysis treatment.

I’m in the process of developing and testing a pedagogy for such conversations with the intention of mainstreaming mortality and life in schools, churches and communities in Southern Philippines.

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