Not All About Me

From a quietly poignant essay by young Max Edwards, "I'm 16. Five months ago, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer" (The Guardian, 2016-03-19):

 it's not
all about

Mr Edwards writes, in mature and thoughtful fashion, about how the news of his imminent death " ...doesn't really change anything important ..." and hasn't altered him as a person. After surgery and treatment he lost significant amounts of mobility, which is an inconvenience and irksome but not fundamental. He's not religious, he's not particularly scared, and he calmly recommends stoicism and selflessness:

... I am sure the expectation of death is worse than death itself. True, they say death is the worst single thing that can happen to you, and given that I can't trick myself into believing there is an afterlife, I imagine it leads only to an empty void, but I've found ways to accept such an idea. First, I look on my life, which I believe has been a modest success, and remember that it could not have occurred in any other way. The only possible way I could have had my unique set of experiences is by living my life as it is, and that means dying when I die. ...

I also remind myself that the experience of dying is not unique to me. Whether it happens aged 16 or 95, experiencing the end of everything you know is the same process — it's just that I and those around me are forced to come to terms with this fact prematurely.

Finally, I feel it has helped to process the whole issue selflessly. Some people might find it helpful to know that they are loved, that people care about them and that they won't be forgotten when they die. I can understand this and I see how it's comforting, but I also find it consoling to take the opposing view: stop dwelling on personal suffering and carry on as before.

This approach seems to help deflate the hype that terminal diagnoses carry. Pity, grief and sympathy are all natural emotions, and they certainly have their place, but I've found the message of "Stop whining and get on with it" far more effective. Stoicism, I feel, is more effective than grief: a simple reality-check helps to set my perspectives in place. ...

Mr Edwards died on 26 March 2016 ...

(cf. Unselfing (2009-01-14), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), Jack Smart (2013-04-13), Mantra - No Self (2016-10-25), Nobody Home (2016-11-13), ...) - ^z - 2018-02-18