The holiday season is a time for family and loved ones, and you likely think ahead with excitement to gathering with these loved ones to enjoy traditions, share memories, and make new ones. As a family caregiver, it is important to remember that this can also be a time of great emotional strain and grief for your parent.
The holiday season can bring up painful reminders of lost loved ones, such as their deceased partner, parents, siblings, and even children. This type of grief can be very painful for your parent, and diminish their enjoyment of the holiday season. Finding ways to help your parent cope with this grief is critical to preserving their mental and emotional health, and helping them to enjoy this season with the rest of the family.
Use these tips to help your parent cope with grief during the holidays:
-Acknowledge what they are feeling. Don’t try to ignore the pain your parent is experiencing or the grief they are feeling. You might think that not talking about it will help it to go away, but this will actually just make it worse. Not talking about what they are going through can make the pain more intense, and increase the risk your parent will suffer consequences such as depression.
-Share your own feelings. If you are experiencing grief at this time of year, don’t hesitate to share it with your parent as well. The holiday season is a time of joy, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the difficult emotions you are experiencing. Sharing them with your loved one can help both of you to better cope and work through them effectively.
-Talk about the loved one. This is a wonderful opportunity to share stories and memories of the lost loved ones. Share favorite memories of holidays past, laugh, and enjoy this chance to feel closer to this loved one.
-Honor the loved one. Find a meaningful way to honor the people you are missing during this time. This can mean cooking a special dish that they particularly loved, leaving a place at the table for them to symbolically show they are still there or putting a picture of them in a place of honor. This allows your loved one to still be a part of the holiday celebration so they are not forgotten but also gives you permission to continue to enjoy this celebration as much as possible.
-Don’t force levity. If your parent is having a difficult time, don’t try to force them into the celebration. Include them and let them know you are there for them and want them to be around, but don’t try to force them to feel happy or excited. If they simply need to be away from the celebration, respect this and give them the space to work through the emotions.
Caregiver stress is a very normal part of this kind of role with an elderly adult.
Those adults who have taken on the responsibility of caring for a senior are much more likely to experience stress than other adults and tend to suffer more severe consequences as a result of this stress. Starting senior care for your aging loved one can be a fantastic way to help you reduce your stress and avoid the potentially dangerous complications of stress. This not only gives your parent access to more diversified care and a more varied and enjoyable quality of life but can also protect your health and well-being as they age in place.