Practical tips for being apart yet together during the holidays

By Seasons | December 18, 2020

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In a normal year, the holidays can present challenges for those on hospice or who have recently lost a loved one. And 2020 has been anything but normal. COVID-19 has meant not being able to hug our loved ones, share family stories, participate in religious rituals, or simply spend time with friends. These restrictions might make it feel as though there will be no joy this season. However, this change can also represent an opportunity to create new ways to celebrate “together.”

When grieving or coming to terms with a hospice diagnosis during the holidays, it’s important to make a plan for how you will spend your time. Being intentional and planning can be a critical bulwark against depression, unhealthy grief, or sadness. Planning could take the form of doing something for yourself (retail therapy, anyone?). It could be as simple as taking a bubble bath, exercising, sleeping and eating well, reading a good book, or watching your favorite movie.

Instead of focusing on the disappointment of not being together, you can also consider starting a new tradition.

Cheap or free ways to virtually connect have been one of the silver linings of the pandemic. In a time where picking up a phone to call someone was becoming a hassle, video chatting has become a lifeline. There are many free platforms to connect “in-person,” to be together face-to-face or with a group of friends. So, whether our friends and family live down the street, in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or in another state or country we can be more intentional and connect with them virtually.

If you’re not sure how to plan this out, we’ve developed some tips and suggestions to help guide you. This year why not try:

  • Creating a family gratitude video or taking time as a family to share what each of you are thankful for this holiday season
  • Teach a family recipe and cook alongside each other, virtually, and while you prepare the food, take time to share family stories or memories and acknowledging those who may no longer be with you
  • Decorate cookies together and enjoy them with your favorite winter drink
  • Have a gingerbread house making contest and vote on a winner or make similar ornaments as a family together to commemorate 2020
  • Sing Christmas carols together and maybe invite an unexpected guest that you all sing to over Zoom

Holidays can also be a time of service. This year many people are suffering loss, hurting, or in need.

Even if you’re not able to get out of the house or contribute financially, there are ways that you can support your community remotely. By doing so, you’ll give yourself a sense of purpose and help out others in need- a win/win! Consider:

  • Contacting your local shelter or food bank to see how you can help. Many faith organizations also have projects and needs.
  • Reaching out to an assisted living or skilled nursing facility in your area and see if they would be interested in receiving homemade Christmas cards or children’s art to brighten their residents’ day
  • Reaching out to those living alone in your community over the holidays for a virtual coffee date or check in. Many local churches and community organizations have members that cannot leave the home, and will welcome volunteers to support these individuals virtually.

Ultimately, it’s critically important to remember that you are not alone. Seasons encourages you to reach out to a friend or family member because chances are, they are feeling the same way as you. You might just be the connection they need as well. Of course, you can always reach out to us at Seasons Hospice and our bereavement specialists will be happy to be a listening ear or provide resources to support you through the holidays.

This year has been difficult for everyone all and we want to acknowledge that this holiday season is going to look and feel different than previous years. With a little community and some planning we can harness and make the best of that difference, together.

Seasons has designed a free-to-use virtual ‘thinking of you’ card that allows you to craft a personal message of support and email to anyone you’d like. Click here to send a virtual card to a friend or loved one. 

 

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