Written by: Elizabeth Mashak
Holiday shopping? Birthday surprises? Just because?
No matter the occasion or time of year, many of us are always in a giving mood. And when the giving nature of humanity begins to show itself, we anxiously prepare for the day when our loved ones get to open the gifts that we diligently wrapped. Hoping each one will bring a brighter smile.
But in the hustle and bustle of gift shopping, we sometimes fail to realize that these occasions may also become an emotional roller coaster…one which many do not wish to ride. Because millions of people are smiling to hide their pain, as they celebrate on what could be their last day.
Most of us know a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. When we find ourselves in their company, we do our best to help keep their spirits up. But deep down we know their time with us is limited.
A lot of folks will agree that time is the greatest gift you can give anyone. But during the holidays especially, we inevitably ask ourselves: “what else can I do to bring a smile to their face?”
What is the perfect gift for a loved one who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness?
From toys to clothing to fancy gadgets, there is no shortage of gift ideas to pick from on the internet. Thousands of “Top 10” gift idea articles are posted every year, but very few address the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge.
So America’s Footprints has put together a list of 5 gift ideas (plus five more) that we believe are some of the perfect choices for those who does not have much time left to live.
1. The gift of laughter
We have all heard the saying before: “laughter is the best medicine.” Everyone could use a good laugh from time to time, especially those who haven’t laughed in quite a while.
If you want to keep things simple, how about preparing to play a game of Mad Libs while you enjoy some dinner together. If you are not game players, go around the table and share some funny stories from your past, or spotlight your most embarrassing moments that all of you can now laugh about.
If you are looking for a night out, find a good comedy show in your area. Or take them to see a new comedy at your local movie theater. And if COVID is limiting those outdoor options, jump online and rent a good comedy show.
Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. A little laughter can go a long way, especially when every other remedy has failed.
2. A furry friend
It is a great feeling to wake up in the morning and see your puppy anxiously awaiting your touch, or to enjoy your favorite movie on the couch while your kitten cuddles up and snuggles in your lap.
Our pets depend on us for almost everything, and caring for one can give a terminally ill patient the will to continue living for that very reason.
Obviously if your loved one is not fond of animals, then you can simply skip this suggestion. But it is no secret that pets bring joy. They can become a companion for life, and never fail to show unconditional love to those who love them back.
3. A genie in a bottle (sort of)
There is likely something your loved one has talked about doing in the past, but never got around to doing it. It could be a dream they wanted to fulfill, a place they wanted to visit, or person they wanted to meet.
So why be the “genie in a bottle” for a day and make that one wish come true for them. If it is something grandiose like dinner with Bill Clinton or box seats at the Superbowl, there are plenty of organizations that can help in fulfilling wishes like this for terminally ill patients.
But sometimes their wishes are as simple as a day on the beach, a night on Broadway, or a walk through the park.
Whatever you decide to do, granting a wish they couldn’t fulfill themselves is enough to create memories for life. And as they close their eyes that night, they will look forward to the potential surprises in store for tomorrow…giving them one more reason to keep fighting just a little longer.
4. The gift of time
Everyone is always busy. We have school, we have work, we have kids, and we have our responsibilities. And somewhere in the middle we also try to find some time for ourselves.
As a result, we all get caught up in the whirlwind of life, and get into this routine of only seeing each other on special occasions or the holidays.
So why not make the time this holiday. Instead of watching your favorite Judge Judy episode, or spending an hour scrolling down a social media feed when the kids are asleep, spend that time with your loved ones who need it the most.
Instead of doing nothing on Sunday afternoon, do some grocery shopping. And afterwards, take a drive to go visit them, cooking a nice dinner as a surprise. And if distance is an issue, even a simple phone call can go a long way.
Sometimes all they want to do is bond with the people that meant the most in their lifetime. So breaking the daily routine once in a while to stop and “say hello” will bring happiness to the faces of those who otherwise have no reason to smile.
5. The gift of a Footprint membership
Those who know the end is near typically spend more time than usual thinking about what they are leaving behind for their children and grandchildren. But I am not talking about a Last Will. I am talking about something more important: a life legacy.
There are so many untold stories about their journey, and countless lessons that are yet to be passed down. Our loved ones know the story behind almost every photo in their album, and know the secrets behind every recipe in their cookbook. They have earned wisdom through life experiences, and have created traditions that mean the world to them.
But the reality is simple: the life they once lived will slowly be forgotten the moment they close their eyes for the final time. And everything they are holding onto will ultimately vanish, like their life never even existed.
So why not give them the gift of a lifetime Footprint. This unique gift provides them with an opportunity to preserve the memories from their life story, and to summarize those experiences, lessons, and wisdom from their journey into a single profile.
All so their legacy has chance to continue living as it is passed down to their children and grandchildren, keeping their story alive for generations to come.
These represent just a few of the unique gift ideas that can help brighten the days of those who may spend most of their time in darkness. And as an added bonus, here are a few more to add to the list:
– spend a few days each week cooking their favorite meal
– rent a movie or watch their favorite TV show together
– fill up their tank with gas
– hire someone to finally get started on those pesky home repairs
– surprise them by paying a random bill one month (electric, cable, phone, etc.)
For those that are terminally ill, these simple gift ideas will help them get through another day with joy. And who knows: your gift might just give them a reason to continue living…just so they can look forward to another round of surprises that may keep on coming!