If you were dying, would you tell people?

A friend on Goodreads told me about a book. “The Last Friend” by Tahar Ben Jelloun.

The main character is hiding the fact he is dying from a close friend.

I am a doctor, so my patients occasionally die. They die of cancer, heart disease, old age. Rarely, they kill themselves. The synopsis of the book made me think about secrets. Do we have a right of keeping important things secret from our close friends?

I remember the time when I told none of my close friends that my marriage was breaking up. I only told people about my divorce after it happened

In my opinion, this is very complex. One of my best friends is a firm believer in the “right to die”. His father, a doctor, killed himself with the help of the “assisted dying service “when he was suffering from terminal cancer. My friend was there, holding his hand.

The same friend asked me to tell him if I thought he was getting demented, so that he could kill himself. I said I could not do it, I would feel responsible for his death.

I had a time in my life when I was feeling suicidal.  I knew I was not going to act on it, my suicide would hurt a lot of people.  But the lyrics by Madness ” … and the dreams where I was dying were the best dreams I ever had…” resonated with me…

Would I tell somebody that I was planning to kill myself? Probably not, they would feel responsible for not stopping me.

But I think it is different when you know you are dying of an incurable illness. I think I would tell my close friends and relatives- it would give them time to get used to it and say good bye.

So I would like to know what other people think. We all sometimes lie by omission. Sometimes it is not to hurt other people, sometimes it is not to hurt ourselves…

What would YOU do if you knew you were going to die soon? Tell people? Keep it a secret? I am not sure what I would do…


7 thoughts on “If you were dying, would you tell people?

  1. yeh id tell the 2 or 3 people i know. right to die is a very contraversial thing in america. majority of voters dont like it here in america until they see a close family member get dementia or colon cancer, get cut open, anus removed, all that stuff. then they agree with idea of right to die, little late then. another problem is americans have to/want to work too much so most of them dont spend alot of time in the hospital, and alot of families arent very close here. so when they dont go to hospital they dont see the horrors, they might call grandma and say goodbye or visit them 1 last time, that kind of stuff.when i worked in alzheimers unit of nursing home, id say 80% or more of the patients never had any family members come visit them it might of been higher. i very rarely ever seen family in those nursing homes. i worked all 3 shifts. i remember only 1 family ever going to lunch and helpin their mother eat, in 3 years of working that job in numerous facilities. i worked for a temp agency.

    ive seen things in those nursing homes that are unspeakable so i totally agree with the right to die.

    on my epitaph i want ” i told you people i was sick” . yes i would tell people i was dying.since im always telling people im dying when i get a minor abrasion, the boy cried wolf, they wont believe me when i get cancer 😉


    1. What a great reply. Thank you.Although the right to die was not what my question was about, It was more about -would I tell? Do my friends have a right to know that I am dying? Still, a great insightful answer.


  2. well to answer that question, its up to the person i guess. i dont think anything is required, its all subjective. if you dont want them to worry etc those people dont tell others. then u got the other people who want to share . i dont think its a “right” they should know , to answer your question. its your life do what you want with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Part of me would not want to burden them with the emotions of knowing I’m dying, but being alone in a world you know is coming to an end is a really lonely place. When I thought of suicide I told a friend and he was not impressed. In fact he was angry, hurt and afraid. It was interesting to see his reaction but not surprising. People I’ve interacted with usually reflect their own emotions and reactions to what I do and expect comfort.

    No, I probably wouldn’t share that nugget till the very end. 😊


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