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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 75 - Simple Gifts

We're  linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday/

Little things mean a lot, or so goes the song from the 1950s.

Well, they do.

For someone who's terminally ill, a small, thoughtful gift can truly brighten a day. Two examples...

My sunglasses had a cracked lens, The crack wasn't in my line of sight, but I had to be very careful putting them on when I went outside.

So the other day, Barbara brought home a new pair of sunglasses. Not Oakley shooting glasses, mind you...just Wal-Mart's finest.

But they may have been Oakleys for the pleasure they gave. It was the thought that counted.

Second thing...she'd had to go into town early on a Saturday morning, and brought back some McDonald's hash browns, from the breakfast menu. One of the few things that I can still eat.

The point here isn't the grand gesture, the symbolic presentation, the five-foot-tall teddy bear festooned with hearts and flowers. It's the small thing that one might want or need...and can no longer obtain for oneself.

Goes both ways, though. The terminal husband or wife can make sure that their caregiving spouse gets small gifts too...mainly, the gift of respite.

Dying's a lonely business, and when in that tunnel, most of us want company, and the company we want is usually the person we love the most.

But for that spouse whose presence is in demand, it really sucks.

A big part of the reason it's hard is that the caregiving spouse has to live a dichotomy; engagement with the vibrant, active world, and engagement with tragedy unfolding. The two sides are terribly polarized; the perspectives have little common ground.

And the caregiver's stuck in the middle.

You need respite time, and your spouse can grant you this by saying. "Hey...I'll be OK. Go to a movie, go to Starbuck, get yourself a really nice lunch. Go bowling!"

In other words...Go, without me. Go, and take the time to breathe..

When you're dying, it might be one of the last - and best - gifts you can leave.


  1. The gift of respite. Yes. At the other end of the life and death spectrum...the child-rearing time, oh how valuable that respite is from caregiving.
    Thank you for another post-this one with a lot more joy. Perhaps it is the hashbrown speaking...and the uncracked perspective lenses you're peering through. ;)

    Blessings. See you at FMF tomorrow!

  2. Never thought of it that way; the gift of respite for the caregiver is very important; and it IS a gift the care-receiver can give...the "small" gifts that Barb brought you when she was out - Priceless, Andrew; just "priceless"!! Even a small gesture, to anyone, especially one who is unable to get out (much if at all)...


  3. Who knew that a pair of Walmart sunglasses could mean so much? ;-) And you are right, Andrew, this journey you and your wife are on requires a bit of perspective to see what the other needs. It's not huge gifts that matter, but an extension of "I thought of you today" that makes all the difference.

    I'm going to try and catch up on all the posts you wrote while I was gone on vacation but may not do it as quickly as I'd like. I don't want to miss out on any profound thought that you pen, my friend!