Anukriti Mehta and her husband, Ted*, had only been married a few months in 2014 when they received terrible news.
Ted, just 28 years old, had gallbladder cancer that had spread to multiple organs. It was too late for treatment.
The couple, of Bangalore, India, were devastated, but determined to make the most of their last months together.
Anukriti, 26, decided to make a list of all the things she wanted to do with Ted before he passed away.
She turned to the online social community Reddit for help. Her post was called “How do I live (not survive) the last days?”
With the help of strangers online, Mehta and her husband assembled a list of things to do in Ted’s final month. The list originally appeared on the Reddit site Upvoted.
First, she shot lots of pictures and videos.
"I have loads of data of him, [from] doing his daily chores to just snoring away next to me. And I still don't think it's enough," Mehta wrote on Reddit later.
The pair also discussed her future after he passed.
"As much as one would want to avoid thinking about a life beyond the one they love the most, not thinking of it will make it that much harder when it inevitably comes."
Mehta, an aspiring writer, also wrote a book about Ted — he was, she said, its “sole reader” — and they put together a scrapbook filled with memories from their life together.
“I collected screenshots of the best and meanest things we've ever said to each other, printed those, interspersed those with our pictures over the years in chronological order (starting with the cliched obligatory baby pictures),” she wrote.
The book included several “Top 9” lists — both their birthdays fall on the 9th — and a crossword puzzle Ted had to solve.
Mehta also named a star after Ted.
"I know this is slightly silly but now I can look at him whenever I want,” she said.
The list went on: knitting Ted a sweater, cooking his favorite meals and insisting he wear some of his favorite shirts for days in a row so his scent would last on them.
But mostly, she cherished the small moments.
"[I] spent every waking moment in his arms and sleeping moment in his tightly wrapped arms. Yes, lots of cuddling and just being together.”
Ted eventually passed away.
And while Mehta said there is “hardly anything" that truly makes her feel better, the list turned out to be a tremendous help during her grief, all thanks to a group of thoughtful strangers she met online.
“The videos, the letters, the star, the memories in the last days, capturing it all in the scrapbook, [and] the pictures definitely help with coping better,” she said.
“Having these memories to hold onto and not going crazy with regrets of things you wish you could have done definitely helps.”
Mehta encouraged others to embrace the time they have with their partner — even if they’ll live a long life together.
“Living your life each day like it is your last is impractical. But living your relationship like each day is your last is the easiest and most comforting thing in the world. Hug them, hold them, tell them you love them,” she said.
*Name has been changed at subject’s request.