Caring for a seriously ill family member can lend a tinge of blue to the holidays.
It may be sadness that cherished family rituals are no longer possible.
Or you may be worried that this year will be the last for a sick or ailing loved one.
Perhaps the thought of visiting relatives is simply exhausting.
Here are some ways to handle these common stressors.
It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” Even if some family customs are no longer realistic, embrace what’s still possible. And let go of the guilt-laden “shoulds.”
- Keep it simple. Perhaps you still gather at Mom and Dad’s, but order a precooked, take-out meal. Or have everyone contribute to the meal. Try to capture the essence in a way that no one person shoulders a big burden.
- Focus on the most meaningful activities. Your energy and your loved one’s energy are limited! Pick one ritual that truly gives you that holiday lift and consider any others an “extra gift” of the season.
Acknowledge the “anticipatory grief.” You’re not crazy if pulling out your holiday sweater brings on a bout of tears.
- A holiday can sharpen awareness of life’s impermanence. You may feel grief about the losses you have already experienced. And grief as you realize your loved one may not be with you next year. These feelings are normal. If possible, share them with someone who understands.
- Celebrate your loved one’s presence. Trying to “make this holiday the best” may distract you from spending quality time with your relative. Instead, take the opportunity to cherish what you have now, and revel together in shared memories of holidays past.
Maintain your normal self-care routines. In this season of extra stress, it’s especially important to get enough sleep, eat sensibly, and exercise regularly.
Do the holidays feel overwhelming?
You are not alone. As the Iowa City, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids experts in family caregiving, we get calls from many families during this season. Give us a call at 1-800-897-3052, toll-free. We at Iowa City Hospice can help lighten your load and add some lightness to your spirit as well.