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If you knew you didn’t have much time left in this life to spend with your loved ones, how would you say goodbye? This is the question Michael Sellers faced when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013. Faced with the fact that he would only have a few months left with his loving wife and children, he decided to plan ahead and create something really special for his kids.

His youngest daughter, Bailey Sellers, recently shared an image of his parting gift to her- the last, in fact, of many. Michael had arranged for a bouquet and message to be sent to her on her birthday every year until she turned 21.

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The letter reads:

“Bailey, this is my last love letter to you until we meet again. I do not want you to shed another tear for me my baby girl for I am in a better place. You are and always will be the most precious jewel I was given. It is your 21st birthday and I want you to always respect your momma and yourself. Be happy and live life to the fullest. I will still be with you through every milestone, just look around and there I’ll be.”

“I became home-schooled so that I could help my mom out … because he couldn’t work anymore… He was my best friend. I looked up to him so much,” she said. “He was just an overall great person.” Bailey Sellers told ABC News. (1)

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Knowing that his prognosis wasn’t good, Michael prepared along with his wife for how he would say goodbye to their children. Kristy Sellers, Bailey’s mother recalls Michael telling her about his plan to send birthday flowers. “We were sitting on the couch — and it was about a month before he passed away — and he said he had already done it. That this was what his plans were,” Kristy recalled. “He said, ‘I’m going to do it until her 21st birthday. And if she’s married, ask her significant other to send her flowers in remembrance of me.'” (1)

Michael also arranged for a special gift for his other children. His two older daughters, Morgan and Abigail, received embroidered handkerchiefs which Michael had prayed over before his death. He hoped they would incorporate their handkerchiefs into their bridal bouquets.

Experts’ Opinions: How Do You Prepare to Say Goodbye One Last Time?

Many people don’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones, but for those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, there is a special chance to make peace before you go and to help your loved ones prepare as well. People who work closely with people in their last stages of life have offered their advice for how to create healing moments and use your remaining time in a valuable way.

  1. “One or two people – probably family members – will make enormous personal sacrifices to help you. If you are married, your spouse is likely to do this, but don’t be surprised if others – a daughter, a brother-in-law, or even a friend, step forward to offer extraordinary help. Be grateful, and accept help, from whatever source, graciously.” ~ (2)
  2. “Say the 6 things  you need to say to your loved ones, friends and enemies. It is never too early to say these things: “I’m sorry.” “I forgive you.” “Thank you.” “I love you.” “It’s OK to die.” “Goodbye.” (3)
  3. “Have faith in yourself, and in those around you.  Many people find hidden strength they never knew existed until they had to deal with the inevitable death of a loved one. ” (4)
  4. Ask yourself: Have I left a legacy? Identify life lessons, advice, hopes and dreams that you would like to pass on to family and friends. Write or record these. Identify a person who can pass these along to the people to those whom you wish to receive your legacy. (3)
  5. Slow down and ask your family and friends to slow down. There may not be a lot of time, but there is sufficient time in all but the most extreme cases to think, plan, prepare.  ~ (2)

You may be interested in reading the popular book”On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. 

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