Social media moves us along

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

get well soon cardYou know, as a hospice industry, we’ve come farther than we think.  I mean, we’re not at the point where we’re hosting neighborhood “Hey, let’s talk about end-of-life wishes!” parties, but we’ve come a long way since the 1970s.  And I think that a lot of the social acceptance that we have seen as of late can be attributed directly to social media.

Let’s face it.  Social networking has completely changed the way we communicate.  Information is readily available at our fingertips every single second of the day.  You can comment on someone’s Facebook post at 2am and you’re not shocked when 30 minutes later, three other people have commented right behind you.

So it wasn’t surprising when Regina Holliday, frustrated by a year-long lack of response from the greeting card giant Hallmark, finally got the organization’s notice when she took her cause to Twitter.  See, Regina had been the caregiver for her husband who passed away from cancer several years ago.  When he was first diagnosed, her husband received all kinds of “get well soon” cards.  But once he chose comfort-oriented care, the cards stopped coming. 

Regina realized that it was partly due to the level of discomfort that comes along with impending death.  But she also knew that some of the blame could be attributed to the fact that there are no “hospice” greeting cards; no cards that offer a way to express sympathy about end of life.  What if, Regina thought, a greeting card could say what the individual was feeling during this difficult time?  What if that card could verbalize the complex emotions we feel when someone we love is going to die?

Regina started calling Hallmark directly, trying to speak to someone about her idea.  That didn’t work.  She tried using personal connections and contacts.  That didn’t work either.  So she started an online petition and began tweeting about her cause.  And that’s what finally got the attention of Hallmark. 

They haven’t committed to end-of-life cards yet, but they are considering her idea.  Ten years ago?  Regina would have hit a dead-end after an endless round of unproductive phone calls.  But with the power of social media behind her, she got across the table from a multi-billion dollar company.  Crazy, isn’t it?!   

Of course, not everyone is wowed by Regina’s idea — opposers say that sending a hospice-themed card to someone who is dying would be inappropriate.  But Regina’s point is that a card can at least start a conversation, one that perhaps would never happen without this kind of “opening”.  Hospice cards would let a family know that they haven’t been forgotten.  And it would give those of us who have a hard time with face-to-face conversations a way to show support for the people we care about.

Yep, we’ve come a long way.  The fact that Hallmark would even consider a line of hospice-themed cards tells you that quality, end-of-life care has become important to us as a society.  I don’t think, however, that those “Hey, let’s talk about end-of-life wishes!” parties are ever going to take off.  Maybe I’ll tweet about it.

Explore posts in the same categories: advance directives, advocacy, awareness, end of life, hospice, social networking, Twitter

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