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Wedding Planning In The Face Of Serious Illness And Even Death

So. I’ve been getting some really emotionally weighty reader questions of late – ones that I think need addressing. I don’t want to leave you feeling sad and glum, because weddings are wonderful wonderful things (just open the wedding graduates in another tab if you need a reminder). But weddings are also big complicated things, and they seem to make the complications of regular life more painful and difficult. So, today we’re going to tackle serious illness and death during wedding planning.

Towards the end of our wedding planning, when I started to get seriously stressed, and slightly depressed, my mom was very ill. I don’t want to go into it in great detail on this not-at-all-anonymous website, but what I can say is that it was painful and confusing and totally overwhelming when combined with a wedding. That said, I really believe that weddings are about hope, and that is part of what pulled me through, I think. So with that, the question:

The problem I’m facing is one I’m not finding a lot of information/help on the internet, probably because talking about death is hard at the best of times, let alone at a wedding. But I’m sure that I’m not alone in dealing with a loved one’s illness during wedding planning, and I’m wondering how anyone else got through it. My dad was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer 3 months before Dave proposed. We decided to have a relatively short engagement, only 7 months. Now, more than halfway through the engagement, my father is now really sick. Like, end of life sick, like, hoping he makes it until March sick. You can imagine how this influences everything, including wedding planning. It’s hard to plan a ceremony when you don’t know if your dad will be able to walk, let alone walk you down the aisle, for example. Or, you know, not be there at all. I guess I want to know how other people got through this. Or even that I’m not alone, if I’m being honest. How do you deal with illness in the face of joy? Or worse, how do you handle things if the worst happens? Or the practical – how do you plan a wedding when you can’t plan major details like aisle walks and dances and even photos until days before the wedding? Are there books and resources out there that I’m missing? Any words of wisdom? Because I’m pretty much stuck with how much it sucks, you know?

First of all, I want to say that *nothing* is going to make it not suck, nothing in the whole world. But saying out-loud and claiming it not pretending that bride-mind has somehow blinded you to pain, well, that helps a little. As does knowing you’re not alone – that other people have gone through it before you and are going through it now, and that even people who have never gone through anything like this, are virtually holding your hand. Kind commenters? Words of wisdom? Hand holding? Affirmations of how much this sucks? Having been there? (and yes, if you want you can leave a lovely anonymous comment on this one).

And if nothing else, I think I’m calling out Team Practical in full force. You’d be amazed at what virtual hand holding can do, even, maybe especially, when faced with the very worst… and the very best, all at once.

I’ll leave you all with this, which helped me through some of the worst:

“Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job… And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another – that is surely the basic instinct… Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.” – Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson

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