What Gift Do You Get for Someone Who’s Dying?

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About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.


  1. Fredericka says:

    so I read it at work and now I am crying. I guess the only thing you can give someone who is dying at Christmas is your love and your time and your attention. What a special reminder about the “true meaning” of Christmas.

  2. The only present… and the one that will matter most is your presence.

  3. Something soothing, a massage, financial help with medications, support for the family, time, attention, help with household chores, laundry service and love, lots and lots of love :)

  4. Lisa Hickey says:

    I would create a video of the persons life, buy them the softest, warmest blanket I could find and give a kiss and a hug that seemed to last forever.

  5. A note expressing how you feel that they can hold and read and reread.

  6. Martin King says:

    Thank you for addressing the subject of what to give as a gift to a dying loved one. Being short of miracles, false hopes and the beautiful lie, I think that the very kind and loving thoughts posted on this board covered the solution very well. Your presence, support, attention, and just being there when appropriate with our loved one is a beautiful and compassionate way of saying I love you.

    I think in this busy world that we live in, we have underestimated the the importance and power that just “being present” can bring to someone who is seriously ill. It costs nothing to give, yet the value is indeed, priceless.

  7. ViveLeRamen says:

    You buy her a nice dress and slow dance in the living room. You spend hours cooking Christmas dinner with the children while singing carols at the top of your lungs. You kiss under the mistletoe. You volunteer at a soup kitchen. You stop by the neighbors with cookies and wish them a merry Christmas. You make snowmen. You roast marshmallows. You eat s’mores. You do all the things they do in movies that no one does in real life. And then you snuggle up on the couch and watch TCM until the kids fall asleep on the rug.

  8. These are all excellent suggestions. What perceptive and kind comments!

  9. I made my mom a house coat, and embroidered in the inside “To hug you when I can’t. I love you mom”
    and I made a book thru creative memories that accounts for all of my mothers life :)

  10. …this topic sucks ! for no other reason but having to deal with such a real problem at such an “unreal” time of year.

    Everyones comments are all so true and so fitting ! but Ive got a different scenario….

    What about for the single older brother, who has no dependants or significant others…he’s very much a loner, but not in a negative way…he just keeps everything to himself… Too proud to ask for help, too private to share his feelings or fears…

    …all we seem to be able to give is our time and service at the drop of a hat, if its ever asked for !!!

    Merry XMas !!!


  11. It may sound glib/cheesy but I’d probably write a poem or short essay/letter to express how much they mean to me. Being a writer, that’s a form of expression that comes naturally to me.

    I’ve been feeling some trepidation around this lately. I’m 25, and my parents are in their 50s. A couple recent hospital visits have me thinking about what’s going to happen as they age and what my role is in taking care of them if and when their health starts to decline. Frankly it scares the crap out of me. Hospitals, illness, nursing homes make me very uncomfortable, and on top of that, I just don’t know how to act, what to do or say, how much help they need and what I’m expected to provide. I can only hope that they still have a while before such care is an immediate need, and that I’ve grown up more and figured out how to handle it by then.

  12. calhawk says:

    The best gift I could think of was an embroidered blanket! http://www.warmembrace.com has some of the most beautiful blankets and everything they stand for is INCREDIBLE!!!!! I highly suggest checking it out!


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