Be Here Then

why and how to write & create an ethical will, hospice card, or other legacy

Easiest “card” to send to someone in hospice care

Continuing on with the theme of hospice cards, an old interest of mine resurrected by the current patient advocacy of Regina Holliday, here is a simple way to let someone you know in hospice care that you are thinking of them.

For this idea, here’s what you need:

1. A computer with a camera attached (either built-in or plugged-in accessory)*[*you should know your software/camera capabilities: some snapshots will show the writing reversed, some won’t, so do a test first if you don’t know!]

2. An internet connection

3. A piece of paper, say about 8.5 x 11″ big. Your choice plain or fancified…

4. A pen, pencil, Sharpie, crayon — you want a thick line so the words are easily legible.

5. An email address to which you can send an email containing the photograph you are about to take. The address should be one that either the hospice client/patient can received directly, or else of a person who can show the email to that client/patient (or print it out for them, best of all).

Here’s what you do: Write on the paper a short sentiment* (it needs to be big enough to read).

*Suggestions: What you say will matter depending on the relationship you have to that person in hospice. Pick from the following, or make up your own:

1. If it is a dearly loved one, someone very close to you: “I love you!”
or “Thanks for your love”
or “Thanks for your kindness”
or “Grateful for you”
or “BF F” (you know who you are and what it means!)
or “I wish you peace”
or “All is forgiven, all is well” (if this applies to you, you should first read this)

2. If it is a friendly acquaintance you care about but “I love you” is uncomfortable: “Thinking of you!”
or “You are in my prayers!”
or “Here’s a hug”
or “You matter to me”

3. If it is a more distant person that you still want to acknowledge, like a coworker or service provider of some sort: “Wishing you peace”
or “Thank you for everything”
or “God bless you” (if the recipient will appreciate this)
or “You are missed and cared for”

4. Sometimes words do fail us, even those of us who love them and like to use them. For these times, channel your inner child, and draw a great big heart on the paper. Or a flower with the closest you can get to a hand holding the stem, as if you are handing them the flower. Or draw them something else. You’re not getting graded, here. You ARE trying to send SOMETHING kind and thoughtful into that painful silence that Regina Holliday experienced, and many other workers and volunteers in hospice care see all the time.

Now that you’ve written your sentiment or drawn your visual:

1. Sit down in front of the computer.

2. Get the camera ready to take a picture of you, paying attention to what else will show in the picture with you (look behind you — dirty gym socks hanging from the lamp may, or may not, make your recipient smile!)

3. Hold your piece of paper up in front of you so that you and the paper are in the picture.

4. Take the picture and look at it carefully. (If you need to reverse the image to get the writing “right-reading” then fix here.)

5. Go to your email program, address the email to the hospice recipient or the one who will receive it for them and print it out for them.

6. Attach your picture and in the body of the email you may want to type in the same sentiment that you wrote. (You can send yourself a ‘Bcc’ so you can see for sure what it looks like to the recipient.)

7. Hit “Send.”

I can just about promise you, it took me much longer to write these step-by-step instructions than it will take you to do this.

As I say when I am speaking or writing about ethical wills and legacy letters— as long as you are kind and thoughtful and apply the Rule of No, SOMEthing is better than NOthing.

You have some better suggestions, or fixes to this one? Let me know!

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