I learned to make adjustments in what I planned for the holiday dinner, and how to get through the day and still maintain a measure of joy, thanksgiving, and lower the stress level.
1. Don’t plan on inviting a great number of people for a large dinner. If you are caring for someone who is very weak, or ill; be honest with yourself that you just can’t do it all anymore. Make this known to the other family members. If they still desire to have a family gathering, let them know they will have to take the major responsibility of cooking and organizing the day. If they truly care; they will lend a hand and lift your load.
2. Lower your expectations. Instead of trying to do everything “like we used to”, learn to be flexible. Learn to simply enjoy whatever the day brings, enjoy conversation, good music, simply being together. If your loved one is very weak, and has trouble eating; do not force them to try to do something they cannot do. It will only add to stress, frustration, and sadness.
3. Share memories of past family gatherings, or events that has brought joy to you. Cherish the time you have during the time your together.
4. If your family has trouble getting along, it may be best to just not do a family get-together. If your caring for a loved one, and there is a lot of stress between family members, trying to force people to get along for the sake of a one day gathering is not always a good idea. Be honest with yourself about how much you can handle. Because, once the holiday is over, you still have the on-going responsibility of care giving after it is over. You have to take care of yourself, to be able to continue to take care of someone else.
5. The one your caring for may very well seem very sad and despondent. Take these things into consideration:
They have lived through many losses.
Memories of a life they will never have again is a reality to them.
If they are suffering and in pain, this only adds to the hardship.
You cannot change the fact of what they are enduring. All you can do is understand, extend love, and compassion to them, and listen if they desire to share things with you. They don’t want or expect you to be able to change the situation, they need love.
This holiday season, if you are caring for a loved one; let the peace and love of God be with you and help you in making the choices that will truly make it a time of “thanksgiving”.