Recently my dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Since Christmas is coming soon, I wondered if anyone would have any ideas for a Christmas gift for him? What does one buy for a dying person? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.
One of the most meaningful gifts I've ever given was an embroidered blanket! I sent it to my Grandma when she was diagnosed with cancer and she absolutely loved it. I got mine at www.warmembrace.com. The people there were amazing to work with and I got everything I wanted and more!
anyone would have any ideas for a Christmas gift for him? What does one buy for a dying person? Any
suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.
I would suggest looking through your pictures, scan them and they can be shown on a DVD or on a computer
screen. Showing them this way is wonderful and heart wrenching. I am doing it for my family and I can say
as a nurse that your dad would love to go back and relive these days. Kids at a local high school could
help if you asked their computer teacher or someone from your church. I expect you want to begin soon.
I'm so sorry to hear about your dad.
I would buy him anything that will be comfortable for him, lounge pants, a nice tray to keep next to his
bed for his things/meds, really soft slippers, a quality robe, a journal to vent and soothing music, whichever applies.
You may want to contact a hospice to find what they find works best. They can also advise what will be
uplifting. You want his time left to be lived as fully as possible.
These will be tough times, but he's alive now. Enjoy him. Tell him everything so nothing is left unsaid
no matter HOW uncomfortable.
You might want to start recording his memories of his youth, family, and his favorite times with you.
I pray strength for this journey and comfort for your soul. (12/13/2004)
By Fran Marie
Lots and lots of your time and love. Also time off for his primary caregiver (your mom?) so she can
recharge, too. He will appreciate knowing she is looked after, too. (12/13/2004)
Whether you give these for Christmas or not, they can be very useful.
In the Checklist of Life: "A Working Book to Help You Live and Leave Life" by Lynn McPhelimy,
"Before It's Too Late : Don't Leave Your Loved Ones Unprepared" by Emily Oishi,
"All Together Now: Records, Instructions and Wishes for Those You Love" by Alan D. Schultz, and
"Everything Your Heirs Need to Know", 3E by David S. Magee
(He will not need all of them, of course. One of them should do.)
All are available at Amazon.com.
I would also get him his favorite foods.
God be with you in this difficult time. (12/13/2004)
First, please let me say how sorry I am that your
dad has been diagnosed as being terminally ill.
My prayers are with him and you and all of your
family. Since I don't know your convictions, please
let me apologize in advance for any unintended
distress I may cause, but I have found wonderful
comfort in the books of Sylvia Browne, James van
Praagh, and John Edward. They all describe the
Greater Life to come, and tell what to expect when
this physical existence ends. Perhaps if you could
request them from the library, you and your dad
could have uplifting and comforting conversations
about the Other Side. I know it was a great help
to my sister and me when we were facing the passing of our parents. Please know that you're in my
thoughts and prayers. (12/13/2004)
Professional photographs of the different family members have been well received. They have a lot of
time to think of their final demise, but seeing family and friends can be very comforting to them.
First, I am sorry to hear about your father. May you and your family find comfort at this time.
My recommendation is for you and your family to record your father's history. Get him to talk about his
childhood and experiences. Tape this for your siblings (if any) and for your children (if any). Record
his memories and his thoughts. A history of your father will be a great keepsake for the future
generations in your family. Talking to the love one that is dying, brings comfort. People have a hard
time talking about death, help your father with this, one of the greatest gifts you can give him and
yourself. Now is the time to discuss what funeral arrangements will be needed and want his final wishes
are to be!
I am very sorry about your dad. When my dad was in the hospice and only had a couple of months left, we
celebrated his birthday and Father's Day. I made a "memory box" for him that he really loved. I found
out later he shared it with all of the nurses and others in the hospice.
I would write a special memory on a 3 x 5 card and attach it to something that symbolized the memory.
Sometimes it would be a very small item and I put it in a little Ziploc bag and stapled it to the card.
For example, I had a locket he had given me for Christmas when I was a young girl. The memory was of our
many wonderful Christmases together. I also put a peanut in a baggie, because it brought back memories
of him teaching me to drive and he was sitting in the passenger seat eating peanuts calmly while I made
all of the mistakes of a new driver. There were about a dozen things, when I started to brainstorm a
list of memories, a bunch came to mind. Then I thought of a little something that would be symbolic of
the memory. He really loved the gift, and kept saying "I don't know how you remembered all of these
The idea of the pictures is a great one. We did this for an anniversary. We just put about 50 family
pictures in the order we wanted them and brought them to a local photo place. They put them on VHS and
DVD for us and added a soundtrack.
Another idea that costs less, is to find a special picture of you and your father together, maybe from
when you were a child, and frame it. Then write a letter telling about your memory of that occasion and
why it is special to you.
Here are several ideas:
By St. Pete Ken
I empathize with you about your dad's illness. I also have lost my dad to cancer and my mom to a cardiac
In the time we had dad, while he was ill, there were special things that helped make life easier. The
lounge seat that allows you to sit up comfortably in bed. A wonderful foot massage as often as you can to
keep the blood circulating. When people come to visit him or when you know he needs your strength, hold
his hand. You will feel the strength flowing between you. At all times remember his dignity and respect
his wishes. If he chooses to talk about things, be always ready to listen. If he doesn't want to discuss
certain things, respect his wishes. Let him know you love him as often as you can.
Hang a birdhouse outside of his window.
Try to keep him at home if you can. He will be happier in his home.
There is a book" Life after Life" which my dad had and I have it now. It may be a comfort.
If he is comatose and you are talking near hm, check his eyes with a smaller flashlight. If he reacts
to the light, know that he can hear what you are saying.
Try to ensure that your mom is with him when he passes, also his family who are able to be with him.
Make his remaining time special by talking or doing things that make him forget his illness for a while.
Take mom out even if she says no, as she will need to energize and get some fresh air.
The biggest gift is yourself. As far as a gift that is material, chat with him about what he wishes he
had right now. Add a pair of comfortable pajamas to the gift and comfy socks and sign it with all the
love in your heart. (12/13/2004)
I know what you are going through right now. I'm sorry for what you are facing. I lost my younger sister
(57) to cancer and 9 months later my mother to cancer also. One thing they both enjoyed was back rubs
with lotion that had been warmed and also warm thin blankets and throws. (Put them in the dryer for a
few minutes). The hospital has blanket warmers, but showed me how to make small warmers for feet, neck,
arms, etc. Take a folded terry towel wrap it in one of the bed protectors with the cloth side out, tape
it shut with paper tape and put in the microwave for a minute or two. You check to see when it is warm,
not too hot. They can be used over and over, when they need to be changed just make another one.
Another thing you can do is make fruit smoothies, milk shakes, or malteds. To help keep him interested
in food, give him things he likes best. Serve tiny amounts, most people when ill do not like large
helpings, you can always give him seconds. Take him for a drive if he is able. Read to him. Ask if he
wants the daylight bright or does he like the drapes drawn for a nap. My sister liked to feed the
blue jays peanuts from her hand when she was still able. She also liked to blow bubbles outside to see the
rainbows of color. The bird feeders were fun for her, too. Puzzles were a good way to get her mind off
her illness. And she loved listening to her favorite San Jose Shark games on radio. Ask his friends to
send him cards or notes, phone calls, and SHORT visits. Maybe play a card game with him. Ask him if
there is someone he wants letters sent to. And most of all get help from hospice and visiting nurses.
Caretakers get worn out fast and need to recharge their energy. And uninterrupted sleep for a few nights
will help very much.
Does he like flowers? A rose bush or dwarf fruit tree planted where he can look at it would be nice.
Also a dish garden of mixed green plants with a few colorful silk flowers added would be nice for
indoors, or a flowering plant, like Azaleas or some other not too fragrant plant. Watching old movies,
Westerns, Abbot and Costello, Red Skelton, and yes The Three stooges if he enjoyed them. The 99 cent
stores have old movies and TV shows now on CD's like Andy Griffin, Lucy, etc. Laughter really is the
best medicine. I hope some of this has helped.
Cherish the time you have with him now.
May God keep all of you in His hand.
I'd like to say first that you and yours will be in my prayers, and I'd like to make a suggestion, but
where I don't know you or the situation personally, I'm hesitant. Years ago I lost my mom to cancer, and
when she was ill, people wrote her letters thanking and telling her the wonderful influence she'd been on
them, and what they'd learned from her. There were some very touching letters, some funny that had great
remembrances. The letters meant a lot to my mom, and now that she's gone, it means so much to me having
those letters because it captured a part of her that as her daughter I never saw. May God bless you
during this pain and stressful time. (12/16/2004)
Don't buy anything for your dad. Write out all of your memories that you have of your dad and give that
to him. I didn't do this for my dad when he was alive, but as a tribute to him at his funeral. I only
wish I had done this sooner. Everyone, but my dad knows how much I loved him and how proud I was of him.
I have a grandfather that is dying and we were trying to think of something to take to him. He is so
afraid of not making it to heaven and is very afraid of dying. So my sister and I thought that a guardian
angel coin, pendant, or pin of any sort would be great for anyone, whether they are comfortable or not
with the idea of dying. Hope this helps and God bless all of you. (02/15/2005)
By Jennifer M
Buy a crystal growing kit from a science/hobby store. Prepare the solutions then place them on a
decorative dish with appropriate ribbons, etc. for sitting next to the bed or chair. As the days pass the
beautiful colored crystals will begin to form, grow and change providing a wonderful and meditative
object. This is good for people forced to ponder their mortality daily and helps to illustrate a sense of
passing time and natural cycle to them. A similar concept to giving potted, living, flowering plants
except that once grown the crystals last forever. This a comforting thought for the dying and many people
become quite attached to their crystals. My elderly neighbour requested that her beautiful violet
crystal rocks be buried with her which they were. I hope this idea brings joy to someone else out there
You could buy him a star and name it for him.
This is such an old post, but maybe someone else could benefit from this suggestion. Remember that the
last sense a dying person loses, is his hearing. Right at the end, one could speak softly and read
according to the dying person's convictions. If he is a Christian, read appropriate passages from the
Bible and also pray. Make sure that the body is comfortable and well cared for; that is also a way of
showing love and dignity. (07/03/2006)
There are many excellent books where terminally ill people can fill out questions and info about
themselves. A couple of titles " The Story of a Lifetime", "Mom, Share your Life with Me", "All about Me",
and "My Life, a Collection of Memories".
My best friend of 23yrs is terminally ill with 3 young children. She is so afraid her children will
not remember her, and these will never replace her ever, but they will help add some love and comfort to
her children in the following years and makes her feel good to be able to leave something of herself
behind for them as well.
Best Wishes to you all. (12/07/2006)
I have a friend who is dying rapidly of cancer. She says she is cold a lot. A group of her friends and
co-workers have purchased a quilt with a lot of blank spaces in the pattern. We will all write something
on it, either funny or uplifting, or just say we love her.
Some of us recently did the same for another co-worker who was dealing with grief after losing her
sister, her father, and her grandson. She cherishes it. (08/30/2007)
My wife is dying of cancer to and I was wondering the same thing. I'm thinking of hiring Christmas
carolers to come to the house or a special party. I'm thinking of something that's not material, but
visual and something she is very involved in. A celebration of life party or scrapbook or videos if you
have them. How about a "this is your life" gathering. Its hard. Hang in there.
Editor's Note: Take care, we'll keep your wife in our thoughts and prayers. (11/18/2007)
My father is dying from esophageal cancer and lung cancer. He was given three months to live back in
August, but is still with us through his own grit and determination not to give up.
He is moving in with us this week and I too have been wondering what to buy him for Christmas. He loved
gardening and his garden and hanging baskets were always the envy of the neighbours. I have a tiny back
yard and I have decided for his Christmas present I am going to fill it with as many colourful plants as
possible given the time of year. I have a set of coloured lights already strung up and I am going to get
my children (his grandchildren) to make a large "Merry Christmas Granddad" banner to hang up. Hopefully
not only will this be an apt Christmas present but on days when he is exhausted and confined to his chair
he will look out of the window and see some bright and beautiful plants and flowers that may bring a
smile to his face. Love you Dad xxx Sal
P.S Hope this may help some of you in the same position. (12/03/2007)
By Sal B
I actually just learned that my dad was terminal, so I made him a www.shutterfly.com calendar and used
pictures of nature that he actually took. I will tell him that I would like him to keep flipping the
calendar months over and be encouraged to keep living the best life he can before he gets really sick! I
hope he likes it. I was going to do photos of his life, but I don't want Christmas morning to be a sob-
fest so I went with some uplifting. (12/18/2007)
When my mother was passing she moved in with me at least 2 hours away from her good friends and support
groups. It was the middle of winter and extremely difficult place for older people to travel to. So I
contacted her circle of golf friends, and womens' leagues and family and asked all of them to write her a
letter telling her what she has meant to them. I put the letters together in a scrap book with all the
photos of her with them, and she loved it. She read it everyday, made phone calls when she could and felt
they were with her during her final days. The book was with her when she died, and now resides in my
home, when I feel horrible and down that I miss her so much, I pick up the book and know how much she was
My mother is dying of lung cancer. Her birthday is today. I purchased a book from Hallmark entitled,
"Legacy of a Mother". This book has hundreds of questions about what it was like for them growing up,
favorite memory of their childhood, etc. My mom loved it. She is working on several questions a day with
my dad. When I visit, I will also write in the book. These memories are happy for her.
Also, my church makes blankets for people who are dying. The blanket has large white blocks. Every
person in the church that wants to participate, puts their hands in various colors of paint, and then
they place their hands on a block. They write their name with a permanent marker. After all the hands are
dry, a quilt is made from the squares. The top of the blanket can say all of these hands are praying for
you or wrapped in love. The church has sent my mom 30 birthday cards. She reads them everyday and has
saved all the cards for about 2 years. (03/07/2008)
I have a friend who has battled breast cancer for 6 years, she is 36 years old and is in her final
stages. She is at home in a hospital bed, I wanted to get her something, but not sure what. I started
thinking about that hospital bed she is in, plain white sheets, regular pillows. I though she is spending
so much time in that bed, why not make it pretty, so I went out and bought some colorful sheets and the
matching throw pillow for her to rest her arm on. It meant so much to her, not only that she is still
worthy of receiving a gift, but also something that will remind her someone cares and will brighten her
My husband is dying from a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (very malignant) brain tumor. His birthday
will be 5/24 and I have planned for all of our family and friends over for a cookout, alcohol, games and
music! That is what he said he wanted, was to have all his family and friends over to celebrate his Bday!
So, that is what I am going to do! We can all celebrate the life of a wonderful man, regarded as a great
friend, wonderful husband, and father, and just an all around special man.
Editor's Note: What a wonderful idea. Celebrate his life! (05/21/2008)
By Linda from PA
My grandma is dying and I am flying to see her tomorrow. I plan to get a digital photo frame loaded with
family photos that can be viewed near her bed. We did this when my mother-in-law was recovering from a
broken hip and she absolutely loved it. I also like the idea of a guardian angel of some sort.
I found this website because I am an 'Angel Buddy' for someone who has terminal cancer. I also have been
looking for ideas for this individual, who I really don't even know so well.
It's a little off topic, but I encourage all of you dealing with any cancer related treatment to check
out the website http://www.chemoangels.com . It is a fabulous organization filled with volunteers to
support those undergoing cancer treatment.
I hope this information is helpful to someone else.
Chemo Angel Lori (09/09/2008)
My father was dying at Christmas time. My brothers and sisters, our spouses and all 10 grandchildren
gathered photos and wrote endearing loving messages to him. We made a simple tie knot blanket of fleece
on one side and cotton fabric on the other. Using photo transfer iron on paper, the images and sayings
were transferred onto the blanket. In his dying days, he was covered in the warmth of his family. It
was a conversation piece for all who visited him and for the staff who cared for him. When he died 13
days later, wrapped in his family blanket, he was cremated and buried in it. (11/29/2008)
For my 50th birthday I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, so for Christmas that year my dad and
his wife prepared a "picture biography" of my life entitled "Kathy, the first 50 years". It included
photos of me and my family (some humorously photo shopped), newspaper articles, artwork and a fictitious
foreword by my fictitious grandson in the year 2039 noting my many remarkable accomplishments (also
fictitious!). It was one of the most thoughtful gifts ever! (P.S. I'm still alive and kicking, 4 years
Two years ago, a dear friend was losing her mother to cancer. Her mom was weak and had not eaten in
days. The only food her mother thought sounded worth eating was peach pie. I knew this was something I
could do for both of them. Despite it being January in Iowa, I managed to find peaches that were as
close to fresh as you could get. That peach pie was the last thing she ate before she crossed over. I
thought I was just making a pie, little did I know at the time what an impact it would have.
My friend has often said it is now one her most cherished memories. It gave her mother a joyous
reminder of a time long ago when she as a child would help her mother make pies. This was also the last
conversation Sheri and her mother had together.
I guess whatever it is you decide to give, it only has to be from the heart and perhaps remind them of a
happy moment in time. (03/26/2009)
My dad was diagnosed 5 weeks ago with stage IV esophageal cancer. He has at most a month or so. I have
taken the photos of him with his family and friends throughout his 62 years and made a slide show for him
on a CD. He loves when I visit and bring him a slide show of the newly added photos. It takes a while to
scan them all, but well worth the time. It's something he can watch and he doesn't have to put in a lot
of effort to concentrate. He doesn't have a lot of energy these days. I'm hoping I can get all the
photos added that I'd like so he can see my final project. It's a good way to chronicle someones life. I
plan on sharing copies of the CD with my family as a keepsake of my dad. (05/04/2010)
I made a CD of all the odd songs my dad used to sing. Everything from "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its
Flavor" (on the bedpost overnight) to "The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time". I also researched
the songs and wrote a long letter telling the year these songs were released, tidbits and gossip about
the artists, etc. and my memories. Even though dad doesn't have much energy he has been able to listen.
If a picture is worth a 1000 words a song brings back an era. (11/20/2010)
What a great site! I found this site searching for ideas for my wife, who has a co-worker struggling
with brain cancer. And I thought of a great idea, with the help of this site. I also have an idea for
others. When my mother was dying with colon cancer, I decided to make her a huge card made out of poster
board, using a 3x4 piece for front and back and taped in the center where they met. I searched my heart
for words, and this is what I came up with: on the front I wrote, "I thank you not for the times you were
right ..." And when she opened it up, were the words, "but for the times you tried!" Something quite
amazing happened when I gave it to her at the hospital. Everyone who visited, and members of the nursing
staff wanted to sign it. It was something she cherished.
When my dad was dying, I discovered that he desired one thing, my taking the time just to be with him,
to keep him company with meaningful, as well as random chatter: just to be there taking care of him. I
was there beside him when he took his last breath, a time when I was thanking him for all the moments he
gave to me. It was hard taking care of him and watching him slowly die, but it gave me the opportunity
to be more closer to him than any other time in our shared lives. I understand what those who wrote on
this site are going through, and my sincere thoughts go out to each and every one. If I had any words of
wisdom, it would be the giving of your time to your loved one, to put into action that word, "love."
God's blessing to all.
My grandmother was just diagnosed with cancer this past week and only given a year with chemo and 6
months without the chemo! Christmas is right around the corner and I really don't know what to get her
for Christmas. She is a very loving woman who collects many things and one of those people who always
buys anything that she "needs". I'm stuck! She has two daughters and a son all with kids and grandkids
of their own! My kids love her so much, but are too young to understand what is happening. My aunt just
a few months ago was diagnosed with breast cancer which my grandmother was also a survivor of. My family
is feeling very down lately because of everything and I just really am looking for something that my gma
can enjoy and something that may bring my family some laughs and joy as well in this really horrible
time. My gma asked me the other day what I want her to get the kids and I told her that I would like her
to go to Hallmark and get one of the recordable books so that she can read them a book before bed even
after she is gone. I was thinking of maybe getting my 5 year old the same thing and recording his voice
so that he can read her a book too. I also like the ideas of a scrapbook of the whole family and the DVD
with photos and songs. Im glad that there was somewhere to look for such good advice and wonderful
suggestions. I wish everyone the best of luck. (12/08/2010)