One of the things that's been a joy and a trial through the Princess Mom's illness has been the mountain of greeting cards she's received. They've been a joy because it lets her know her friends are thinking of her. It's been a trial because we have to read each and every one out loud to her, as she just can't seem to focus enough to read them herself... and some of them dredge up some pretty painful emotions for her and for us.
Since there seems to be a spate of folks around the blogosphere going through grave or terminal illnesses with their parents or partners right now, here's some do's and don'ts for sending mail to them:
Don't send a "get well" card if the family has told you they've agreed to palliative and/or hospice care. It ain't going to happen, it hurts to have to read those wishes out loud and it hurts her to hear them.
Do send a "thinking of you" card. That's truthful and welcome.
Don't say you're praying for a miracle. She's not and we're not. We're praying for good days and little to no pain. We're praying for a peaceful ending. She's good with God, and so are we.
Do say you're holding her up in your thoughts and/or prayers. You have no idea how much comfort we get from that support.
Don't tell her the forty different ways you're going to miss her when she's gone. I had to read one letter like that out loud to TPM, and we both ended up in a flood of tears. She's not gone yet! That was morbid and selfish, even if well-meant. It's not about you right now. It's about her.
Do tell her the things you value about her and your friendship in an upbeat, positive way. Keep it in the present. (In fact, you should probably do this for all your loved ones from time to time. Why wait till the end?)
Do tell her what's happening in your world. It keeps her engaged in the rest of the world and not so focused on all the crappy stuff that's happening in hers.
Do bring up funny anecdotes and favorite memories of times spent together. Her short term memory may not be so good, but her long term memory is great.
Do visit or call her, as long as you're willing to do it cheerfully. Talk about the latest movie you've seen, book you've read, your kids or grandkids, your latest round of golf. You won't have this opportunity for very long, and if you're going to take it, you might as well make the most of it. She's still able to laugh, and she'd much rather have laughter than tears. There's time enough for that later.
Thanks your love and support.