Holidays–activities for caregivers and dying persons

Jillian Brasch | December 9th, 2010


Helping a dying person send holiday cards gives him a chance to reach out to others. He can dictate notes for you to write if he is unable. I wrote holiday cards for a young man with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) one year and watched him turn anger and resentment into love and forgiveness, knowing this would probably be his last time to reach out to distant friends and relatives who had quit coming to see him in the nursing home. That same year, I worked with a woman in a nursing home across town whose goal was to receive enough holiday cards to cover the bathroom door at the foot of her bed. She didn’t want to include notes; she just wanted to make sure the return address was legible. And it worked–we were able to decorate her room with the cards she received, making her feel loved and remembered.

Making or buying holiday gifts may be too overwhelming for a dying person to do alone. You can offer to help them make gifts, or take them shopping if they are able. Or you can help them buy gifts on the internet. or help them organize a list and then offer to do the shopping for them. I have done it all of these ways. The goal is simply for them to be able to give holiday gifts to their loved ones, any way it can happen.

Some people want decorations, and for others it’s overwhelming. Just ask, and then stay open to the possibilities. Maybe Hanukkah candles can be lit in their room, or the family Christmas tree can be set up in there. Maybe it’s as simple as setting up a manger scene, lighting a pine-scented candle, or putting Christmas lights around the foot of the hospital bed.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope that you are able to create rich, nurturing moments together, with sweet, lasting memories for yourself.

  1. Suzy Holden December 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    These are all beautiful ideas, Jill. I was quite touched by them. I think this blog is going to be a terrific thing, both for you and your readers. Love you.

  2. Daniel December 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

    great idea! I love this!!!

  3. Alexavia July 4, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Kudos! What a neat way of tnhkinig about it.

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