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When Happy Birthday doesn’t work

A friend's husband was diagnosed this summer with cancer, and the friend is being a fierce warrior for the man she's loved a long time. The cancer involves treatments out of town, so there's travel and lodging and keeping one hand in the treatment and one hand in her life here.

It's her birthday this week, and she's not in any mood to celebrate and so to honor where she is right now, I sent her a card that said “Fierce Birthday.”

Any suggestions out there on how to honor birthdays when someone is going through a challenging time and “Happy” just doesn't seem the right word?


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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

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