Birthday Parties, Hospice, and You

By Linda Donavan
Grief Support Volunteer
Hospice of Santa Cruz County

So many of us like to have birthday parties and celebrate the occasion with friends and family. However, at some point in our lives we may even no longer want, need, – or have room for – gifts. After all, how many pairs of slippers can anyone wear at one time? So, when my late husband’s mother, Elinor, was getting ready to turn 90, she made a great decision. She knew how much Hospice of Santa Cruz County helped her son, Paul, and our family with compassionate care and support during his illness. That’s why she asked people to donate to Hospice of Santa Cruz in his memory instead of giving her presents at her birthday party.

The party was a wonderful occasion, where family and friends got together to share how much we love and appreciate Elinor and how grateful we are to have her in our lives. Her idea of having people contribute to hospice in Paul’s memory made the celebration even better because we knew that the money was going to such a great cause. Donations to hospice help pay for grief support services, transitional care for seriously ill people not ready for hospice, end-of-life and caregiver education, and many other programs and services that support our community.  Just knowing that people at the party were helping hospice gave us another chance to honor Paul and feel like he was still there with us in spirit at this wonderful event.

So, the next time you’re planning a birthday party, think about how you can make a difference. If you’d like your guests to make donation in the memory of a loved one instead of receiving gifts, just add this information to the invitation:

Please make a contribution to Hospice of Santa Cruz County in the memory of (add the person’s name) in lieu of gifts. You can make the contribution online at .  Or, mail a check to Hospice of Santa Cruz County, 940 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA, 95066. In the note section of the check be sure to write “in memory of (add the person’s name).

You probably know that old expression “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” which means you can’t have the best of both worlds.  I think you can. You can have a party, eat the cake, and make a difference by having your guests donate to hospice.