1. Health
Trisha Torrey

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Mother's Day... and Hospice?

By February 19, 2013

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For those of us who are never quite sure how we would say it otherwise:

  • When it's someone's birthday - we send them a birthday card.
  • When it's their anniversary - we send them an anniversary card.
  • When it's a holiday or special occasion - we send them a Valentine or Christmas or Mother's or Father's day card.
  • Even when we know they've had surgery or have been in the hospital or have been sick - we send them a get well card.
  • And when they've lost a loved one, we send them a sympathy card to express our sentiments about their loss.

But what do we do when someone we care about is dying? How do we express our empathy or love or whatever our sentiments are? How do we tell them how much we care when there is no more hope of a cure or management - and now they have entered hospice and the last months or weeks of their lives?

We either write a letter, or phone them, or - we stay silent. Most of us have no clue what the right words are so we remain silent rather than make things more difficult for the person we want to connect with - or ourselves. But how much does saying nothing help that person? Probably not much. They would probably love to hear from us.

Enter my artist friend and colleague Regina Holliday. I've told you before about Regina's efforts to improve the healthcare journey for others. But this is new - and is important enough that it has already caused the media to take notice (Good Morning America).

Her idea is that Hallmark should be making hospice greeting cards to help us support the person who is dying in hospice. Sentiments like "praying for you" or "you've played such an important role in so many lives" - or ? Further, Regina put together a petition at Change.org to get Hallmark to take notice. But it wasn't until Regina began tweeting (oh no!) that Hallmark took notice - and yet...

Hallmark's response is that they already make 100+ cards that should suffice. Cards like "Cancer is Tough but You are Tougher" cards. (Regina's reaction: so how do you send that to a cancer patient in hospice? If you are no longer fighting, does that indicate that Hospice means you lost?")

Hallmark's reaction, "This is a really sensitive subject and a delicate line to balance. Some feel the need for a card to express these difficult thoughts, while some feel it's inappropriate to have such cards."

OK - so if someone thinks it's inappropriate, they won't buy them! But for those of us who love the idea and who would purchase such cards, why not make them available? (I'm reminded of "congratulations on your divorce!" cards... and yet, they are fairly easy to find...)

My only suggestion to Regina is this: if Hallmark isn't interested then why not contact the Avis of greeting cards (you know - they try harder) -- American Greetings. There's a market, it's ripe, it's going to be profitable - so what are any of them waiting for?

Here's what you can do:

1. weigh in by taking the poll above.

And if you believe the idea is a good one:

2. go to Change.org and sign the petition to support Regina's idea.

3. send a link to this post so others can take the poll and sign the petition, too.

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Agree? Disagree?
Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo James Steidl - Fotolia.com

February 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm
(1) gemdiamondintherough says:

I think this is another “Hallmark” moment.
I think there are enough, thinking of you, care about you, praying for you, or did you ever think of a blank card, with your own words!
Just spending time sitting with that friend or loved one. Sometimes not saying a thing “says it all”.
If you live across the country there are phones, skpe, and the list goes on and on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 19, 2013 at 1:11 am
(2) Cath says:

Any ideas on what to write in an Anniversary card when one of the spouses is dying? Do you know how hard it is to find a anniversary card that DOESN’T say how they are perfect and will have a long life together? Or show an elderly couple on the cover.
This is what I found….
Cover: “Destiny brought you together.
Inside left: Love always sees you through
Inside right: And happiness?
No one deserves it more than you two.
Happy Anniversary

What do I add? I can’t just sign my name and be done. She is one of my best friends but I have no idea what to write.

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