I am, by nature, a very honest person. I prefer the brutal truth to half-lies. And though I am a fiction writer and admire a certain amount of embellishment, I don’t like cushioning the realities that others need to hear. Considering others as mature adults capable of using their reason means giving them a complete set of facts, despite the potential to cause pain. Avoiding a truth does not make that truth go away, it simply makes it more painful when it is finally presented.
Yes, it is difficult to tell someone they are dying. And there is also something to be said for keeping a positive mental outlook where diseases like cancer are concerned. After all, being happy can help you stay more healthy. However, being realistic is another part of the equation. Considering that one-third of all terminally ill cancer patients don’t discuss end of life care with their doctors, someone isn’t being entirely honest. No one likes to talk about death, least of all a doctor who devotes his life to healing but can’t save you. In addition, talking about death is thought to depress the patient (though recent studies show this may not be the case). But ultimately the doctor is the person who suffers for this discussion by having failed. If the patient gets honesty, they will be getting the service of planning their last acts with all the facts instead of a false hope.
There are some people who don’t appreciate the truth however. Some people would prefer to have hope if nothing else. Some people don’t talk about serious or painful things, closing in on the wounds and bottling things up. Some people might wish to avoid talking about painful things like death with their loved ones. But despite all this protection, they will still die. They will still leave family and friends behind. And while it might be nice to have a last period of time without fear or sadness, pretending that there is neither will not make that remaining time better.