Celebrating Normally Joyous Occasions with Those Who are Terminally Ill

We’ve made it through 2020 – a serious accomplishment.  In any other circumstances, you would be wishing everyone around you a Happy New Year and well-wishes for what has to be a MUCH better year.  Instead, you’re left to ponder the difficult issue of whether or not you should even acknowledge the coming of 2021 in front of your dying loved one.  You’re not alone. 

When trying to find the words to say to someone who would normally be celebrating the day, keep the following in mind:

  • Looking towards a future without a loved one in it isn’t easy and it’s absolutely okay to admit that even when you’re trying to keep conversation positive. 

Ex.  “I know last year was a struggle and this year isn’t going to be easy, but I am so thankful for the time we have with each other now, and for all of the memories you’ve given me that will last a lifetime.  My wish for you this new year is that you know how loved and cherished you are and how many lives you’ve touched.” 

  • Leave out the words, “keep fighting.”  By the time someone has been placed in hospice care, it’s likely that they have decided to stop fighting their illness.  This wasn’t easy for them.  Don’t make it more difficult by letting them know that you’re not okay with their decision.  Although you may not agree with your loved one, let your love for them prevail. 

Ex. “I know this decision hasn’t been easy, but you’ve got me and a whole support system around you to make the most of it.” 

  • Consider that your loved one may have already moved on to acceptance of their terminal illness.  With the best intentions in mind, many friends and family continue to say things like “praying for a miracle” to their loved one even after he or she has decided to stop fighting.  It’s absolutely okay to continue to pray for that miracle on your own, but the person who is dying may rather know that you’re okay with them moving their efforts to finding peace and comfort during this time instead. 

Ex. “I pray that you know how much you are loved and that you find peace and comfort.” 

Finally, while many find it easier to write down their well-wishes, there are unfortunately not many greeting cards that seem relevant to a person who may not live to this day next year.  Still, you may be able to find a beautiful blank card to share some cheer. If you do decide to go with a greeting card, look for ones that leave out words that may trigger the person you are trying to cheer up.  If you’re not sure how your card may be perceived, it may be best to write down your message in a more general greeting card, such as on that reads “Thinking of You on this Special Day.” 

Wishing our readers a New Year that brings much comfort and peace.  

-Vantage Hospice