I recently went to a funeral for a friend’s mother. This woman had had MS that had steadily progressed for the last 30 years. I remember thinking of her in her wheelchair, having to be “attended to” and “done for” when I was diagnosed. Would that be my path?
I found it so interesting that there was no mention of her MS in the funeral service. What a gift – she had lived with this debilitating disease – everyone in her sphere had – but in the end, it wasn’t even acknowledged. I guess that’s the final, great FUMS! She had lived a very full, productive, love-filled life and that’s what was the message for that day. Not that MS had won.
So often I come across obituaries (yes, I read them everyday – weird? Maybe. I do it because I feel like I can pay my respects to someone I never met – honoring their life by being aware of it. AND – I’m happy to find my name conspicuously absent from that particular roll call!!) that seem to highlight that aspect of the deceased’s life. The debilitating, progressive nature of the disease is seemingly pervasive in most of the obits I’ve seen pertaining to someone with Multiple Sclerosis. The funeral I attended was in stark and happy contrast to that view of life.
I feel as if I’ve been kicked in the gut each time I see that someone has died “of complications of MS.” That’s the way it’s most commonly phrased. I read with rapt attention to see how old the person was, how long they’d had it and, if I’m lucky, a mention of just what it was that finally did them in. Morbid, I know. But is it really? Isn’t it natural to want to know what others within your population are falling prey to – if for no other reason than to somehow watch for and avoid that very ailment??
Wait a minute. I just re-read that last line of drivel. Just who in the hell do I think I am? If that isn’t the height of arrogance. Do I really think that I have some control over the course of this disease? Of my life, in general? Of what is going to take me out? Why yes – I do. It may sound arrogant, but I think that awareness of what to watch for and be careful of – and a constant desire to learn more about myself, my body and my disease is – well, healthy.
Reading that someone has died with or from MS is tough. I can’t get over that initial breath-taking moment. Going to the funeral of someone who has succumbed to something that you have – pretty deflating. I don’t think that will ever change. The choice, then, is how to cope with it and what to do with that feeling. I’m choosing to channel that fear and negative energy into something positive: I’ll continue on my quest to care for myself, to learn more and do better, to raise awareness and money, and to be a part of the solution. The cure is out there – we just need to find it.
How do you deal with bumping into the disconcerting obit or funeral for a fellow MS‘er? Please, leave your comments in the comment section under the blog. By sharing our thoughts, experiences and solutions – we all benefit.
I’m including some really great articles I found on the subject of MS and dying. These are thoughtful looks – often with excellent resources – into something that we all need to spend some time thinking about – albeit uncomfortable: Death From Complications of Multiple Sclerosis; Can I Die From Multiple Sclerosis?; Celebrity Deaths from MS; Multiple Sclerosis Prognosis and Your Life Expectancy.
Sometimes it helps the stress, just to say “F-U-M-S”
Special thanks to www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net for letting us use the sweet photo of the grave marker.