A woman with ovarian cancer posted a poignant question about death on one of the support networks. She wrote,

“Apparently, I am not dying fast enough for my ex-friends, family members, and acquaintances. Ever since I was told that my cancer was inoperable and no other treatment was available, everyone keeps asking me how long do I have? When are you going to die? My social worker just called and said how do you feel from the last time I talked to you? Worse? How much worse?

It is so damn rude. I don’t know what to say to these sociopaths. They want a date. I have said that even hospice gives six months. No one knows how long you have. I have had the question right out even from neighbors, “When are you going to die?” It really hurts my feelings when people are so cold. Any suggestions?”

I only have one suggestion that is printable…… Tell them “You go first, I don’t mind waiting!”, that should stop the horribly rude questions. No one ever knows when that is to happen – at least no one has ever told me. You will be with us as long as you are needed and I hope that is forever.



These sound like the sort of stupid comments that people make when they are in an awkward situation and don’t know what to say. I think I would look them in the eye and say, “whenever God is ready for me, just like you and everyone else in the world.”

I hope you can surround yourself with people who make you happy and that you can find ways to make each day peaceful and fulfilling. Sending you peaceful thoughts and teal hugs.


My feelings would be hurt too, its is very rude.
I’d be tempted to come up with a retort like: “April 21st at 6:04 pm. , give or take 5 minutes” or something like, “Why? Are you interested in getting a deal on my used furniture?” or “gee, let me check my calendar, I haven’t scheduled it yet. When would be convenient for you?”

or you could say, “My doctor doesn’t make those kinds of predictions.”

or just, “what a rude question!”

or, if you felt like being kind, you could say, “Your question makes me think you are in a hurry to get rid of me and hurts my feelings. Why you asking ?”


edit that to Why are you asking?, not Why you asking?

or, you could give them the stink-eye and say nothing.

or I suppose a neutral answer like: We don’t know, probably somewhere between 6 months and two years.


You could answer….”I can’t give you a date, but when it happens I’ll let you know.”

Or you could ask reverse the question and ask them….”Are you asking if I am close to dying? Because if you are, I don’t intend to tell you until after it happens.”

Obviously, these people have no idea how their questions sound to a cancer patient. Perhaps some of them are well-meaning. On the other hand, maybe they are just stupid.

And perhaps the social worker is required by her job to assess your current state of well-being, sorta like the chemo nurse asking each and every time, how are your bowels?

Sorry their words hit you hard. I hope it will lift your spirit to know that we each one of us care.
Sending a hug and praying, too.


Robert has the best answer there. I am afraid I would tell them to f–k off! Sorry, I have no other words but to say….god calls us home when he wants us. Oh yeah …you might say…….didn’t mean to get ahead of you in line ….be my guest and just get in the front I’ll gladly step aside. Damn! I have some more but I shall not post them. Oh yeah….how about…go piss up a rope! Sorry again. Hugs…..Jan


Tell them you need help on this one and if they could ask God for you, cause only God knows.

Even if you don’t believe in God you can say this…because no human being has insight to this including the best doc!


I jsut pray right now for you that the Love of God would surrounmd you! I pray that God would just comfort you and protect your heart from things that are said to you that are hurtful. People just don’t understand the God is truly the one in control and that it is completely up to Him, not doctors, not medicine, not procedures, not chemo, not anything but Him. And He is able to heal in a moments time. He is the God of the impossible and He loves to do miracles for people that are up against all odds. I do not know if you are a christian or not but if you are then you probably already know all of this. But if you do not know Christ as Lord and Savior just ask Him to be the Savior of your life, and to forgive any sin you have. He says if people will come to Him and call on His name and confess thier sins to him and turn from thier sins He is faithful and just to forgive us. I am not trying to preach to you, I hope you are being encouraged. I know if I were in your shoes I would want someone to reach out to me with the Good News of the Gospel of Christ. I too have cancer and my only hope is in Christ alone. If you have a computer I would like to dedicate this song to you. Just go to Youtube and then put this title in the search bar. This song has been so comforting through all my chemo and cancer and just the whole journey. I am praying for you a miracle. Just know God is there with you in the midst of this very hard trial. Wishing you the very best!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t ever give up HOPE! <3

Worth it all~~Song by Rita Springer


Yes, people can be insensitive and say things that are very hurtful without even knowing. I look at these moments as opportunities to help them see how their words have hurt my feelings and how they need to speak in positive terms so that our hope stays strong. By letting them know they have said something inappropiate they will learn not to say these things, sparing those of us who are fighting for our lives.

Letting them know that I look at the “glass as half full” never “half empty” so I do not think about death, just enjoying every second of life’s journey. Finally I remind them that “no one escapes this life alive”. Therefore, focus on living in the moment since it is all any of us of has for sure. I will be sending you white light my teal sister. Stay strong and never give up hope.

In Unity,


Say – it was supposed to be yesterday, oh my gosh! I’m still alive! And as surprised as you!


tell them I don’t know there is not an expiration stamp on my foot.

My Mom was on hospice for 4 years she didn’t buy the 6 months either.



I would probably say, why? Is it important to you? If it is, I will ask God to try to schedule it on your timeframe!!


What about, ‘This is not a movie – I don’t have to fit my drama into 120 minutes!’ Then, a little more gently, ‘Are you seriously asking me to discuss the timing of my death with you, right here, right now? Seriously?’ Then, probing, interested look in the eyes. Then, ‘What’s the next question? “How will it hurt?” Thanks for your interest but I would really prefer that you didn’t ‘go there.’


I haven’t decided yet. When do you think it should be?


I don’t know. When are YOU going to die?


Or “None of us really know the answer to that big question, do we.” Not really offensive and puts the question back to them to consider for themselves. After all, we ALL are destined to go sometime, and you just never know who will go first or how.

My partner of 30 years, who was healthy, fit, and happy, died of cardiac arrest while he was working out at the gym …on my last day of chemo! And here I am, about to start chemo for a second recurrence. By all accounts, it is I who should have died first! Guess I am just not finished here yet!

I hope you feel well enough to do the things you feel you have yet to do, and more importantly, to ENJOY!:-)


I think someetimes people don’t know what to say. I mean, think about it…what would YOU say? Not that I’m excusing them, and not that I would ever put such a question to a dying person…I just think maybe the insensitivity isn’t so much rudeness as just plain shock and lack of education on the part of those who blurt out such questions. You have to remember, especially regarding the people who care about you the most, they’re hurting too. They’re upset and confused and standing on the edge looking down into the dark too. I think, like some of the other replies said, yiy siould come up with some snappy comeback, maybe make it funny or at least lighthearted. They’re already grieving, those who love you, and for those who are just acquaintances and co-workers,etc., I wouldn’t let what they say get to you. I wish you the very best.


What makes you think you could ask me such an insensitive question?

Some people don’t remember that people with a serious illness as still [i]people[/i], with the same feelings as people who are healthy. They say it because they are at a loss for what to say, so they say the first thing off the top of their heads.


Where do you live? I can’t image anyone asking a person “so” when are you going to die? Keep you courage and realize how stupid they are…Best to you, Lorie


Hello I hope you are feeling ok,but u really touched me I’m very sorry.but what I would tell them when the lord calls me u just remember he has the last word…keep your head an God bless u…


such great answers on here, I’m not even gonna add my two cents worth…they were awesome suggestions. Pick one and use it and then a different one each and every time. Dead pan humor to rude bluntness, they all will work beautifully. Be blessed, Alicia

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