What Do You Say When They’re Dying?

Fred Holliday was a man who like many was battling cancer.  His wife Regina says while Fred was in the hospital, he like most hospital patients received “Get Well Soon” cards.  However, Regina noticed something that is probably quite common. When all hope for Fred ended he entered hospice care and with the end in sight the cards stopped coming.

 

Was it that people didn’t want to express something in a card?  No.  Regina Holliday says it’s because we lack cards to fit that moment in time.  It’s difficult enough to find a card that says just the right thing for any occasion, but when it’s down to waiting for death to come the right message in a card to the patient is tough to find.  When you think about it, many people stopped visiting the dying because they just don’t know what to say.  Perhaps if they had a card with the right message it would help.

 

Regina says “You get cards and messages when you are fighting the good fight, but the minute you are done fighting, people don’t know what to do,” so Regina has been lobbying Hallmark, to come up with a line of cards specifically for those entering hospice.

 

Fred Holliday passed away three years ago, but Regina believes that if Hallmark created a card line on the topic, they would open up conversation about hospice care and death, and would help others in the future.  As she points out everyone dies and well over 1 million people enter hospice care each year.

 

For the past year Regina has been trying to encourage Hallmark to consider this card line and finally this week Hallmark’s internal search engine now recognizes the word “hospice” and the phrase “end of life,” and suggests cards to match that.

 

 

Hallmark also released a statement on its website titled: “Viewpoints: Greeting Cards for People in Hospice Care,” which says, in part, that “Hallmark offers nearly 100 cards to help people share words of support for a range of life situations, including cancer treatment, serious or terminal illness, grief support, recovery/rehab and other difficult times, as well as cards for caregivers.”

 

Regina Holliday is pleased with Hallmarks move, but will continue to push Hallmark to create cards that will address end of life issues head on.  She said current cards with sayings such as “Cancer Is Tough, but You Are Tougher,” are nice, but miss the mark.

 

 

2 Responses to “What Do You Say When They’re Dying?”

  1. Colleen McKeown says:

    I totally agree that it would help to know what to say or do when the end is near. I am in that situation right now with 2 different people who are losing their battle with cancer and just last night I spoke to a friend about not knowing what to do or say.

  2. Judith says:

    This is the time when people should be told what they meant to you and how their life made a difference to you or your community. When I help someone write their personal history (Word Portraits),I ask them what messages they want to include to their family and friends. They have the option of also having me interview those loved ones on the same topic. And they really shouldn’t wait until they know they are dying to do it. Life — and death — are unpredictable.

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