“Home for the Holidays” has many meanings. For caregivers and those for whom they care, “home for the holidays” can be pretty stressful.
The holidays bring with them all sorts of expectations, hopes, and memories. Often, grief is all wrapped up with those expectations, hopes, and memories (with a big bow on top). Grief can be felt for the way things were; for the way things might never be again; for missing family members or dear friends; for changing living arrangements; for evolving relationships.
How we as caregivers deal with this package is important to our own health and well-being as well as that of our loved ones. Speaking from experience, the holidays are not a time for “faking it ‘til you make it.” This is not to say that maintaining, as best as you can, a good attitude about the season is a bad idea.
However, the most healthy long-term option is to simply feel what you are feeling when you feel it. The follow-on to that is to share those feelings with someone who will listen and lovingly receive them. The result of sharing our feelings of grief is that our load is lightened, and quite often, we find ourselves able to smile and see the cheer of others as a gift, not something from which we want to hide.
Another healthy way of handling our grief during the holidays is to be active. One of the benefits of families gathering at the holidays is the presence of helpers! Caregivers can and should spread the work around during the holidays and make use of the resulting free time to be fed—emotionally and spiritually—in ways which are usually more difficult to achieve. Take advantage of the time to get out and about with some of those long-not-seen friends and family! Change your scenery.
Make sure you are among those worshipping during the holidays. Attending special services your community of faith has during the season which bring you joy will also lighten your load as well as your outlook. This holiday season can be a fruitful journey toward healing and wholeness, a time to deepen a relationship with the Holy, and a way of gaining experience in allowing others to help.
Be well, be real, be at peace.