Making Memories at End of Life
“The moments we share are the memories we keep forever.”
If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it? What about one month? Or one week?
When most people are asked this question, they don’t talk about finishing up a project at work or buying new furniture. They talk about spending time doing what they love with the people that mean the most to them.
Time is a precious commodity. We all know it, but this really hits home when you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Suddenly, the daily minutiae of life fades into the background and the important parts of life become our focus.
Even if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, there is still time to make new precious memories at end of life.
Checking Off Your Bucket List
The idea of a “bucket list” has become incredibly popular with many people. The idea is to create a list of things they want to do “before they kick the bucket.” There are often common themes in bucket lists like traveling the world or running a marathon. But a bucket list doesn’t have to be so adventurous. It’s all about accomplishing one’s own personal dreams.
When we’re young, those bucket list items might be buying a first car or graduating from college. As we age, our dreams and goals will grow with us. Things like buying a first home or saving a certain amount for retirement might top lists of goals. Things like a family trip to Disney World may be thrown in for extra fun.
When we’re even older, our goals might become meeting a first grandchild, reconnecting with an old friend or going back to visit a favorite summer vacation spot. Our goals and great memories at end of life can come from something as simple as a family meal with favorite recipes or doing a puzzle together.
These gatherings can bring great joy to everyone in attendance.
The Gift of a Day
At Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, we strive to give every patient the opportunity to enjoy one perfect day doing what they love. The Gift of a Day events that get the most attention often involve meeting a favorite celebrity or once-in-a-lifetime experiences like flying a plane or taking a hot air balloon ride.
But the thing that is really the most special about a Gift of a Day is that each one is a unique expression of what matters most to each individual patient.
While it’s not as flashy as bungee jumping, some of our most beautiful Gift of a Day moments have involved cuddling with puppies, special family dinners, and sharing the patient’s art or writing with the community. There have even been Gift of a Day weddings – talk about making a powerful memory at end of life!
How to Start Making Memories at End of Life
Think about the people and interests that are most important to you. Talk about those interests with your family and friends. If you are receiving hospice or palliative care, you should also talk to your care team about your dreams and goals. Whether your goal is getting your affairs in order or visiting your favorite restaurant, your care team can help you figure out a plan to make it happen.
Make a record of special moments over the coming weeks and months. Take photos. Record video. Family members can record interviews of each other to save precious stories. Share recipes and favorite songs. These photos, recordings, and writings will be cherished by families for generations.
To learn more about the Gift of a Day program and how Crossroads helps to support patients at end of life, please call 1-888-563-3405.
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