Gifts for Someone Who Is Dying: Meaningful and Happy Ideas

The notion of giving a terminally ill person or person dying a gift seems almost callous and insensitive. What use would they have for it? You and I, my friend, think bigger than that.

We know that choosing gifts for someone who is dying can be a meaningful gesture. It’s an opportunity to offer comfort, show love, and provide support during a challenging time.

If you are new to this, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve got ideas to meet your loved one’s needs, convey a message, ease discomfort, and show your care and compassion during this serious time.

Creating lasting memories

When it comes to providing comfort and support for someone who is dying, creating lasting memories is a thoughtful way to show your love and care. Memory books and keepsakes can serve as a beautiful tribute to their life and the impact they’ve had on others. These can be filled with photographs, heartfelt messages, and mementos that capture cherished moments.

African American grandpa and grandson sharing a smile and laugh.
Sharing memories with a terminally ill family member can sooth, relax, and bring comfort in the last days of life.

Memory Books and Keepsakes

Memory books can be a meaningful gift, allowing the individual to reflect on their life and the special moments they’ve shared with loved ones. You can include personal stories, favorite quotes, and pictures that evoke positive memories.

Additionally, keepsakes such as personalized jewelry or engraved items can serve as a tangible reminder of the love and support they’ve received.

When my dad with terminally ill, he asked about reading our family genealogy book. He was never interested in it in his earlier life, but sought it out now. Now is the time to also capture those important family memories that your loved one can remember.

Grandpo looking at old picture with grandson.
Persons who are dying often like to talk about the past and favorite memories.

This may seem odd, depending on how you interpret it, but you can take a clipping of your loved one’s hair. This was a very accepted tradition in Victorian times. Through Victorian mourning jewelry, momentos were crafted to retain a more tangible remembrance of the deceased. Besides jewelry, hair art and hair wreaths were another way to preserve more beautifully Read more about hair wreath history fromt the Lancaster Museum of Art.

Yes, I do find the Victorian traditions surrounding death unsettling. However, I find that there is nothing creepy about keeping a locket of your child’s baby hair. Clipping a locket of hair is not a gift for the person dying, but a gift for the person living.

Another thing is to make a shadow box together with them. If your Grandpa went to baseball games with you, you can include photos, ticket stubs, etc. Your loved one might really enjoy having this distraction.

An older couple spending quality time together as the man faces death.
Spend as much quality time you can with your loved with in the time they have.


Take this time to make some recordings of your loved one talking, about anything. I recall an older cousin telling me that he was starting to forget the sound of his dad’s voice.

It’s funny, but true. In my mind, and can imagine the tone of my parents’ voices, but not an exact conversation. Pairing up their tone with a conversation makes it so very real.

Experiences and Quality Time

Spending quality time with a terminally ill individual can be just as valuable as a physical gift. Consider organizing experiences that create lasting memories, such as a special outing to a favorite place, arranging a visit from a beloved friend or family member, or simply spending quality time engaging in meaningful conversations. These experiences can provide comfort and cherished moments for both the individual and their loved ones.

Making favorite family recipes is another way to bond with your loved one. Even though they can’t enjoy the food, or only take a bite, it may bring back incredible memories for them. It’s the comfort of familiar foods and happier times that they reminisce in, and a closeness with family.

Gift ideas for comfort and peace

When selecting a gift for someone who is in the final stage of life, it’s important to choose items that provide comfort and peace. Personalized items can offer a sense of connection and warmth during this difficult time.

From personalized keepsakes to soothing items that promote relaxation, the right gift can bring moments of joy and comfort during a difficult time.

Closeup of two people embracing hands across a table.
Show your support through gifts of kind words, comfort, and care.

Consider gifting a personalized photo album or memory book filled with cherished moments and heartfelt messages. A custom-made blanket or pillow with a meaningful quote or family photos can provide physical comfort and emotional solace. These personalized items serve as a reminder of love and support, offering a source of comfort during challenging times.

Comforting items such as soft blankets, soothing candles, and calming essential oils can help create a tranquil environment for the individual. A cozy shawl or robe, along with a selection of their favorite teas or snacks, can offer moments of relaxation and ease. Additionally, a soothing sound machine or guided meditation recordings can contribute to a peaceful atmosphere, promoting a sense of calm and comfort.

For example, you could consider a weighted blanket to help with anxiety and restlessness, a cozy robe or pajamas for comfort, or a soft hat or scarf to keep them warm. You could also consider a gift basket with items such as lotion, lip balm, and other items that can help with skin and mouth dryness caused by treatments.

Mother embracing her daughter, who has cancer.
Cancer is a common reason a loved one may face death.

Books and reading material

Reading can be a great way to escape and find comfort during a difficult time. Consider gifting your loved one with a book or two that they may enjoy.

For example, a novel that they have been wanting to read, a biography of someone they admire, or a self-help book that can provide inspiration and comfort. You could also consider gifting a subscription to a magazine or audiobook service to provide ongoing entertainment and distraction.

Appropriate hospice gifts

When choosing a gift for someone in hospice care, it’s important to keep in mind that their needs may be different from those who are not in hospice care. Consider these ideas:

A man holding his father who is terminally ill.
Dying is the time to express love through words and touch.
  • Comfort items such as soft blankets, pillows, and slippers can help make the person feel more relaxed and at ease.
  • Aromatherapy products such as essential oils, candles, and diffusers can help create a calming atmosphere and provide a sense of peace.
  • Memory books or photo albums can be a meaningful way to help the person reflect on their life and the people they love.
  • Books, music, or movies that the person enjoys can provide a distraction and help them feel more at ease.

When choosing a comfort gift, keep in mind the person’s individual preferences and needs. It’s important to choose something that will bring them comfort and joy during this difficult time.

Fun ideas for hospice patients

Dying is somber business. Leave it to Willie Nelson to thumb his nose to the Internet news proclaiming he died, in his song “Still Not Dead!“.

Having a sense of humor in the death process helps the dying and the living. You don’t need to be a comedian to have fun. Providing light-hearted activities for those dying is a positive way to add joy to the last days and months that a loved one has on earth.

  1. Help them finish their bucket list.
  2. Ask them point blank what they want, and make it happen!
  3. Have family members and friens write their most favorite memories of them on pieces of paper and put them in a jar for them to read.
  4. Ask them how they would want to be remembered in the next year, and try to fulfill their special wish.
  5. Watch a comedy show together.
  6. Get something signed by a favorite author, sports player, or musician.
  7. Arrange for a pet therapy session with friendly and gentle animals to provide comfort and companionship.
  8. Organize a movie marathon featuring the patient’s favorite films or classic movies from their era.
  9. Coordinate a virtual reality experience to “travel” to a destination the patient has always wanted to visit.
  10. Host a small concert or musical performance with live music tailored to the patient’s preferences.
  11. Plan a themed party or celebration to commemorate special occasions or meaningful milestones in the patient’s life.
  12. Offer a pampering session with gentle massages, aromatherapy, and soothing treatments to promote relaxation.
  13. Arrange for a visit from a therapy clown or entertainer to bring laughter and joy to the patient’s day.
  14. Create a memory book or scrapbook with the patient, filled with photos, stories, and mementos of their life and loved ones.
  15. Coordinate a visit from a local artist or art therapist to engage the patient in creative expression through painting, drawing, or other art forms.
  16. Organize a visit from a professional chef to prepare and share a special meal tailored to the patient’s favorite dishes and flavors.

If you get some wild idea for an experience, run it by your loved one first. Tell him you want to do something special and want to be sure it’s something he really wants. They might love it, or decline it. It’s important to be sensitive to respect the time that they have left.

By focusing on creating lasting memories, you can provide comfort and support during a challenging time, offering both the individual and their loved ones a sense of peace and connection.

The gift wrap up

Remember, the most important thing is to show your love and support during the death journey. Whether it’s through a gift, a kind word, or simply spending time together, your presence and care can make a world of difference to someone facing terminal cancer or illness.

Find meaningful gifts to comfort a dying friend or family member.
Renee Cavvy
Renee Cavvy

Renee brings over 30 years of gift giving experience to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, workplace and faith events. Every life moment is cause for celebration or those times in life when we need the "the gift of support". Her mission: Let's all be better in appreciating one another, put an end to meaningless gifts that clutter our lives, and give from a place of love and kindness. This midwest mom (and grandma) offers novel and creative ideas to do gift giving better!