This is the blog of a caregiver whose twenty-one year old son has schizophrenia. I love following this blog because the woman who writes it, writes well, posts some interesting research on schizophrenia, and has a very different perspective than my own.
Her post yesterday (the one I linked to above) made me feel a wide range of emotions. I felt angry at her for suggesting her son’s life wasn’t of value without her there to make sure he was okay (I know she is worried that her son will not be understood, cared for, and that life might be cruel to him without her, but as someone who also lives with the disease her son does, this was a difficult read).
Then I thought about myself. How many nights, with my head resting on my husband’s chest, have I whispered, “Please tell me that I will die before you. I just want to go before you.” My husband’s response is always the same when I say this, “You are so selfish. Why do you think I would do better than you, if I were left alone?” Usually, I give him the reasons I think he would do better, but to be honest, if I knew I was dying a couple years in advance, I would spend the time I had left trying to find him a partner. I really don’t want either one of us to be left alone. It would be hard to lose your best friend, especially a best friend you spend every day with and curl up with at night.
I frequently think and talk about death. Here is an article I wrote (under my maiden name) about my second experience with a breast cancer scare (to my friends who have actually had breast cancer, I hope you will forgive me for writing about how freaked out I get just thinking I have it).
I don’t know what life would be like for that blogger’s son if she dies before him. I don’t know what life would be like for me if my husband passes before me. I know I want to believe that in both situations everything, given enough time, would somehow, and in some way, be okay.
It is a difficult situation to try and grapple with. The thing about having a mental illness is you can’t always choose what you’ll spend your time thinking about. It’s not just me though I bet every caregiver has run similar scenarios through their mind.
There is tough stuff and there is really tough stuff. This whole topic is the latter. Having the thought that your loved one might be better off to die before you, is probably a common and guilt inducing thought for many caregivers. Just know you can say it out loud in certain places no matter how terrible it sounds. I have schizophrenia and I am capable of being honest about what life would look like without my muscle man, my Hercules, my Superman, my love. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it.
I don’t know. I just don’t know.