Aunt Dandelion is an advice blog offered to help readers solve simple or perplexing problems related to social and business etiquette. Ask Aunt Dandelion when you have a problem, and check back soon for answers. Send your conundrums to Or follow Aunt Dandelion on Facebook!

A gift for the dying?

I have a friend who I have learned is passing away. What’s the most appropriate gift and timing? He just moved into Hospice. – Mike in Plano, TX
Aunt Dandelion answers:

Dear Mike,
As the saying goes, “you can’t take it with you.” So no gift is necessary for the friend who is on the threshold of New Life. However, this is a good time to visit (with the doctor’s and family’s permission) to say a gentle goodbye to your friend and offer prayers for his comfort and transition. While in the hospice, you may be able to do little services for the patients or the staff to ease their burden. This would be a wonderful gift. If the hospice allows, you might consider bringing a simple flower arrangement to the bedside or soothing music for them to listen to.

It is appropriate to put your focus on your friend’s family at this time. It’s possible that you do not know them well, but whether or not you do, they will surely appreciate receiving any of the following:
  • Prayers — and send them a card or email to let them know you are praying for them as well as your friend.
  • A phone call — ask how they are doing and whether they need any help at home, with driving or shopping, or with caring for kids or pets.
  • Food — at a time like this, the daily necessity of cooking can become a terrible chore for family members who are already grieving. Arrange a convenient time to bring them a home-cooked casserole, or a complete dinner such as a brisket with vegetables and potatoes, or a fresh fruit platter (already cut up and ready to serve). Choose main meals and sustaining foodstuffs over cookies or ready-made snacks.
A general note to readers — when talking to the family of a dying or recently deceased person, try to refrain from expounding on your personal beliefs about life after death or causes of suffering, unless you know for sure that they believe the same way you do. It can be emotionally draining for people whose defenses are already at a low ebb to listen to theories they may not agree with. Just be there for them, and listen rather than speak. This is the greatest gift you can offer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment here, or ask Aunt Dandelion your etiquette question: