The holidays are usually a season of laughter, joy, and togetherness, but for families with a loved one in hospice care, the holidays can be difficult. If you find yourself facing a holiday season with a loved one in hospice, here are some ways to make it easier.
There may be traditions that you can’t do or don’t feel like doing while your loved one is in hospice care during the holidays. Communicate with your family about what activities you’ll be able to do this year, and don’t worry about the rest.
Remember to be sensitive to what others are feeling too. If a family member wants to skip out on a usual holiday event, give them the grace and space to do so.
Ask for support
Don’t feel bad about asking friends for help during this season. Whether it’s walking the dog, taking the kids to a park, or dropping off a meal, many people are more than willing to lend a helping hand during a difficult time.
We know that you want to be by your loved one’s side as much as possible, but sometimes we all just need a little break. Respite care is a hospice service that allows you to take some time away from the hospice setting and refocus, all while knowing that your loved one is in good hands. Ask your hospice team what respite options are available for you.
Recognise the grief
It’s important to give yourself permission to recognise all of your emotions, even during the holidays. There are no rules about how you are supposed to act or feel while going through a difficult season, so let go of your expectations.
Many people often find themselves feeling two different emotions at the same time. You may feel joy at the thought of spending time with your loved one during this special season, and also pain at the thought of not being able to celebrate with them in the future. Both feelings are valid, and it’s normal to feel a myriad of conflicting emotions. Try to simply recognise each emotion as it comes, and remind yourself that all of your feelings are welcome.
Focus on the moment
One of the benefits of hospice care is that it allows patients to focus on what’s most important to them and to spend time surrounded by loved ones. But one of the most difficult parts of caring for a loved one in hospice for the holidays is dealing with the unknowns.
You may be tempted to think of how things will be different next year, but try not to live too much in the future. It’s okay to simply take things one day at a time. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a moment to focus on where you are right now.
Here are some ways to help you focus on the moment:
Practice 4/7/8 breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7, and breathe out for a count of 8.
Write down a list of things that you’re grateful for.
Spend time sharing special stories of holidays past with your loved ones.
Take a walk to clear your head.
Talk through it
When your loved one is in hospice care during the holidays, you’ll have access to a group of caring staff who can help support you. Talking with one of our spiritual advisors or volunteers can be a good way for you to process your feelings with a compassionate person.
If you find yourself needing even more support, consider seeing a counselor or therapist. These professionals are trained to help you work through your pain and reach a resolution. There’s no shame in needing help, and it’s actually a sign of strength when you reach out to others.
Even in the best of times, the decision to pursue hospice care for your loved one can be overwhelming. During the holidays it can be even harder.
At Envision Hospice, we’re here to help you through every step of the way. Our incredible team of professional staff and volunteers has helped many patients and families navigate hospice care during the holidays. No one can walk through life alone, and thankfully you don’t have to.