Everyday across this nation there are patients receiving care in hospitals and other care centers. In most of these rooms, the side table or often a wall is bedecked with cards saying “Get Well Soon.” But sometimes recovery is not possible and a terminal patient will no longer seek curative treatment. Often these patients will be cared for at home or in a hospice center.
And then the cards stop.
We live in a society that is very afraid to talk about death. The cards stop, the visits stop and people often face the end alone. We need to create a culture shift. We need to create a society where approaching death can be recognized and supported as well as approaching birth.
As a cancer widow of a really great guy named Frederick Allen Holliday II and as a patient advocate, I have been often asked, "How do we address this disparity in communication?” I ask Hallmark: Please create hospice cards. I can tell you one of the saddest days in cancer care is when the "Get Well Soon" cards stop coming. The mailbox is empty and the friends once so talkative are silent. There aren’t any hospice cards, just blank cards, "sympathy" and "thinking of you.” We must change this.
Hallmark is the largest greeting card manufacturer in the United States and they create 19,000 new or redesigned cards and related products every year. If they were to place hospice cards in their stores, we would see a country better equipped to talk about end of life. We would not need to die in silence. Hallmark who has so graciously given us the words to celebrate or mourn other milestones in a life could help us in our final days.
Hallmark needs to help us talk in hospice.