And so, to the last letter of DABDA...A for Acceptance.
We've gone through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression...and now we accept...what?
What exactly are we accepting as the caregiver for a terminally ill spouse?
And what is the dying person accepting?
There are really no facile answers here...have I accepted that I'm going to die of this? No. I've accepted that I'm in the fight of my life, but I'm not giving up...not by a long shot. I'll fight to live with everything I have.
I don't want to die. I do not accept the death sentence. I accept that the outlook is not good, sure; that's not hard, especially seeing what has happened to me over the past few months. But roll over and wait for the Reaper?
And what does acceptance mean for my wife, or for any caregiver?
Just this - that there is the possibility, or the probability, that she will be a widow sooner rather than later, and that life as we knew it - as she knew it - has changed. There are different priorities now, and things like painting the living room are no longer at the front of the line.
Doesn't mean the living room won't be painted; it just means that the chance to spend time together, going to McDonalds for an ice cream cone if I'm well enough, takes precedence.
It also means looking ahead and planning for things that might be unpalatable...the need for a hospital bed, for example, or oxygen, and home hospice. The time for denying that stuff is past; it may happen, and the caregiver has to be willing to consider the possible need, and budget time, space, and money.
It means looking at what happens if and when death does occur...burial or cremation? A service, or nothing special, just dispose of the body in the most convenient manner...after all, it's the Klingon way.
And it means considering what lies beyond that permanent change.
Stay in the same house, or move? (Most experts suggest waiting a year to make that decision, unless finances force the issue.)
Consider remarriage, or not? (Again, most experts advise a waiting period...but this is a subject we'll take up in a future post.)
The point is to look at these questions...things that will have to be addressed if the illness matches the prognosis...to look at them without denying their reality, or resenting them and reacting in bitterness.
That last, that's the key...
Acceptance is the laying aside of denial and bitterness, and choosing to live the life that's there, however hard it may be, with all the goodwill and faith one has at one's command.
For the religious, it's the taking of God's hand, trusting that His guidance will be sufficient unto each day ahead, however harsh it may be.
Acceptance is saying...
THY WILL BE DONE.
And I'll do my share, to make the best of it.