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December 7, 2018

Coping During the Holidays When Your Loved One is Seriously Ill

by April Evans, Manager of Bereavement Services at Care Dimensions

Holidays are meant to be a celebratory time that creates lasting memories. Many people enjoy spending time with family and friends honoring their many traditions. However, if you are caring for a loved one who is seriously ill, it can be challenging to balance caregiving responsibilities while preparing for the upcoming holidays. You may feel overwhelmed, but with support, you and your family can still enjoy meaningful and joyful experiences during this holiday season.

Consider these suggestions to help minimize your stress and enhance the quality of the time you spend with family and friends:

  • Balance your time with others with some time alone—both are important.  Solitude can provide you with time and space to think about how well you are doing.  Focus on all the good things you are doing today for your loved one rather than dwelling on when he or she may not be there to share time with you.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Make sure to eat regular meals, try to get quality sleep and try to exercise. Physical activity is a good way to release the tension that builds around this time of year.
  • Have some fun. Don’t isolate yourself; keep in contact with friends. Arrange for someone to stay with your loved one while you see a movie or go to lunch.
  • Keep your schedule simple.  Commit only to events you feel are important and say no to the rest. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage.
  • Make new traditions. Have a potluck dinner, order the meal from a restaurant, stay at home instead of traveling.
  • Be kind to yourself; recognize that you are doing your best.
  • Talk about some of your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Try to remember that you cannot change the current situation, but you can change the way you approach the holiday season. Enjoy the special moments. A lot of love and laughter can be shared together this year. Focus on the here and now for all its simple pleasures and beauty.

Drop-In Caregiver Support
Are you balancing the role of caregiver to a loved one coping with a long-term illness or experiencing conflicting feelings of anticipatory grief? Care Dimensions will hold monthly Caregiver Support Groups on Mondays on January 8, February 12, and March 12. All groups meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Bertolon Center for Grief & Healing, 78 Liberty Street, Danvers. To learn more, please contact April Evans, LICSW at (781) 373-6609 or


Care Dimensions Hospice House Video Tour

The Care Dimensions Hospice House, located in Lincoln on the Waltham town line, is a gracious and private home-like setting for patients who need hospital-level care for complex pain and symptom management. To learn more, call our Referral Center at 888-287-1255.

Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.