resisted the recent spate of “Christmas in July” store and on-line promotions, but there is no doubt that time is flying by and it will soon be holiday season. We each probably have more than one person on our holiday list who is difficult to shop for. The person who has everything. The person who says, “I don’t need anything.”
The person with a chronic illness.
Ah, he or she can be extremely difficult, not because of pickiness or requests that go far beyond our budget or other resources. No, the difficulty tends to be more sensitive than that and goes beyond the typical, “You should get someone a gift that you yourself would want to have.”
A person with a chronic illness might have limitations on his or her diet, lifestyle, mobility, or other aspect and we might hesitate to give “regular” gifts because we simply don’t know what he or she can truly enjoy and/or use.
Some gifts might strike emotional chords that cause dissonance rather than celestial music. A nicely framed picture of a pleasant shared outing in the past might stir up memories that are difficult to reconcile with the way a chronic illness patient’s life has “turned out” because of health challenges.
Little doodads and knick-knacks are well-meaning, but might only clutter limited space and serve no real purpose and/or convey no real sense of understanding current needs and feelings.
So, how do you know what to give?
Here are some ideas:
Offer your time. Especially if someone is mobility impaired or has difficulty hearing or seeing, an offer of time and assistance can be very welcome! Think of couching your gift of time in a pretty card or fashion your own “gift certificate” to be “redeemed” when the person especially needs your help.
Make a donation. Give a charitable contribution to the particular organization that is championing your ill loved one’s health cause. Ask the patient what group or organization will make the most of your contribution.
Appeal to the funny bone. When we truly know someone, we get to know the sense of humor that he or she thrives on – and derives much support and light when times are tough. Appeal to your loved one’s funny bone – and give the gift of blessed laughter.
Ask. People with special health needs know what they need and your loved one probably has a “wish list” of things that would make his or her life easier, or at least a bit more comfortable. Don’t hesitate to ask what would be an appropriate gift, and stick to that list as you go shopping.
Above all, give your love. Listen to your friend or family member who struggles with health. Be willing to be the shoulder for crying on – and the partner in praise!