It's the most wonderful time of the year?

Lots of advice comes out during the holidays about how to take it easy, how to have a good time and more. I guess I’ll be adding to the chorus but in what I hope is a different way.

While we were caring for my mom during her last years with Alzheimer’s disease, the holidays had a split personality for me. They were still filled with parties, good food and time spent with family. On the flip side the holidays were filled with sadness that my mom no longer knew what Christmas was and that she could no longer participate in any meaningful way. Truth be told it was all pretty agonizing. Fond memories of holidays past just created a sharp and painful contrast with the current holiday.

I imagine that my caregiving holidays may not be so different from what you are experiencing as you are caring for a family member who is seriously ill. So here’s my advice:

Seriously consider what you want to include in your holiday celebrations. Some activities will be too tiring or complicated. Pass them on to someone else in the family or just let them lapse for now.

Make allowance for the mixed feelings the holidays may bring. You will likely experience nostalgia and grief for holidays past. Find two or three good friends or family members to share these sad feelings with.

Find your joys in the moment. If sad feelings start to feel overwhelming, focus your attention on the present. Savor and pay attention to beautiful music, a delicious holiday treat or the beauty of a clear winter sky or fresh snowfall.

Consider creating a new tradition no matter how small that fits with your current circumstances and can be enjoyed by you and your family member.

And remember, in just 31 days, it will all be over and life can return to normal.


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