Dear Barb – A Celebration and Faking It?

Dear Barb:

I have been invited to a celebration of life for the husband of a very good friend of mine. Her husband is in the final stages of cancer and they decided to go ahead with this in place of a funeral. I don’t know how I feel about it. I have heard of other people doing this, but never really gave it much thought until now. I’m not sure how to approach this. How do you celebrate when someone is dying? It almost seems like you are rushing their death. To be honest with you I’m not really sure I want to attend. What is your opinion on a celebration of life ceremony? Thanks, Melanie.

Hi Melanie:

A celebration of life is also called a living funeral and is becoming more popular. The thinking is that this provides an opportunity for family and friends to express their feelings and memories to the person while they are still alive. It is often less expensive, so costs may be a consideration as well. I guess the way to look at it is that this is what the dying person wants and we should respect their wishes. It’s definitely not something everyone would choose to do, it’s a personal decision. I feel you should attend as this is your friend’s wishes. Also, they probably won’t be having a funeral, so this will be your only time to have closure and say goodbye. A famous living funeral was that of Morrie Schwartz which was narrated in a book by Mitch Albom “Tuesday’s with Morrie” you might want to read it before you decide. Thanks for your letter Melanie.

Dear Barb:

I am in my late twenties and I have just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It is a chronic illness that makes me very tired and in a lot of pain most days. I tried attending regular university and I couldn’t keep up, so I am taking courses at AU and going at my own pace. The biggest hurdle I am struggling with from it is people’s reactions, especially other males. It’s like men aren’t supposed to have this, men are the strong protectors, they can’t be sick. I’ve even had a doctor ask me if I was trying to get disability payments. A while back I found a support group and I was the only man there and the women were not very receptive towards me. Even my family are suspicion when I talk about my condition. Fortunately, I did find a doctor who believed me and I have been approved for disability benefits. I’d just like to say to all the people that think I’m faking it, why would I choose this for my life. Why would I choose to not be able to work and achieve in life, but instead just lay around too tired to do anything? Why would I choose this life rather than that of a healthy man? It’s not something most people would want for their lives. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to express myself, Scott.

Hey Scott:

Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose; it is done mostly through the process of elimination. Although there are some chemical imbalances in the brain that can be tested and confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Of the reported five million adults with fibromyalgia only 10 percent are men. The reasons for this could be partly to do with exactly what you are experiencing, which is a reluctance to accept that men suffer from this debilitating condition. Thanks Scott for coming forward and being counted, this will be helpful for other men experiencing a similar fate.

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Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length and to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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