Tis the Season...Joy and Love to Grief and Loss
December 6, 2022
Surely, everyone loves the holidays! Many think it is the best time of the year. During the holiday season, our thoughts usually turn to joy, laughter, fun, celebration, family, and love. But all too often, feelings of anxiety, grief, and loss can also be heightened for those dealing with the death of a loved one or for those caring for someone close who is chronically or terminally ill.
If this feels familiar, we hope that you will revisit some of our previous blogs for some thoughts, tips, and strategies that we hope can be of help.
Dealing with Death During the Holiday Season
With Thanksgiving coming up, and the winter holidays right around the corner, this time of year is a time for celebration, family, and joy. Yet, for those who have recently lost a loved one, the holiday season can be a painful reminder of their loss.
If you are struggling with grief, know that you are not alone. We have comprised a few helpful strategies to help you make it through any holiday you may be celebrating.
“Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is your feeling. Don’t fall prey to the belief that you have to feel a certain way or do certain things in order for your holiday to be “normal.” If you feel sad, then allow the tears to come; if you feel angry, then allow yourself to vent some steam."
Keeping a Loved One’s Memory Alive During the Holidays
The holiday season can be a particularly challenging time for those who are grieving. If someone you love has died, the holidays may not be a time of joy; they may instead be a painful reminder that your loved one won’t be there to celebrate. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to keep their memory alive and cultivate some comfort during these trying times.
Grieving a Loved One on Special Occasions
Special occasions, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or birthdays, are typically a time of celebration. But when you are grieving a loved one, those holidays can be bittersweet. While they can bring up cherished memories, they can also evoke sadness, loneliness, and despair. On these days, perhaps you’d like to participate in an activity to remember your loved one, or maybe you’d prefer to take a day to tune out from the world. Whatever you choose, know that there is no one “right” way to grieve. Whether you feel like laying low or celebrating big, we have some ideas and advice for how to spend these special occasions as you continue to grieve your loved one.
Thanksgiving in the Land of Dementia
I restlessly listen to some radio news, to some music, to some of my current Audible book, but my mind wanders from the sounds emanating from my speakers to thoughts of what to expect on this Thanksgiving visit to my mother’s home. My mother, a once vibrant, articulate, outgoing, intelligent woman, who for many years made a living listening to other’s problems as a psychiatric social worker, and assisting them in coping with the obstacles in their own lives, is now suffering from physical, cognitive and emotional decline, which primarily leaves her confined to bed.
Caregiving During the Holidays
For many, the holiday season is a time of joy and lightheartedness, a time to spend with family and celebrate cherished traditions. But for those caring for a loved one, the holidays can be a time of added stress and frustration. Whether you are caring for an aging parent, a spouse, or even a child, here are a few tips to make the holiday season less trying and more enjoyable.
Caregiving comes with significant responsibilities and is often a full time job. During the holidays, when decorations must be set up, extra cooking needs to be done, and gifts need to be purchased, the added workload can be overwhelming. It is common for caregivers to compare themselves to other friends or family members, and feel that their holiday simply is not measuring up. Scenes from advertisements and the media, along with memories of “perfect” past holidays can lead caregivers to feel that their efforts to celebrate the holidays are not good enough.
Tips for Caregiving During the Holidays
Caregiving for a loved one or family member with a chronic or terminal illness is never an easy endeavor. But during the holidays, caregivers may feel increasingly overwhelmed and emotional. Here are a few practical tips to help caregivers make it through the holidays while avoiding stress and guilt, and making the most of the time they have with their loved one.
Many adults feel the pressure each year to make the holiday season perfect for their families. But when caring for a loved one who is dying, it can be a daunting task to balance caregiving responsibilities with holiday planning, shopping, decorating, and cooking. As a caregiver, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself. Give yourself permission to simplify your holiday plans. Some caregivers might choose to order takeout or delivery instead of cooking an elaborate meal. Others might decide to scale back their families’ gift-giving plans, or choose not to exchange gifts at all. Enjoy the aspects of the holidays that bring you and your family joy, and be deliberate about cutting back the activities that just cause stress. Simplifying your plans will allow you to truly appreciate what matters during the holiday season: spending time with your loved ones.