Thursday, November 6, 2014

Getting Through the Holidays

As we are headed for the holidays, many families and caregivers will the pain of the loss of their loved one. There will be one less chair at the table. Emotions will be frayed. The holidays have the potential for emotional setbacks. Sue Wintz, Editor of PlainViews, gives practical thoughts on Getting Through the Holidays… Getting Through the Holidays: What About Spiritual Distress? By Sue Wintz Any holiday can be a difficult one for a variety of populations, and this season of the year with so many holidays happening close to each other can be especially so. • For those who are grieving, This Emotional Life on has an article written by those who are bereaved; the MISS Foundation has a page devoted to "Transforming the Holidays and Holidaze" with articles and suggestions. • Cancercare provides information for family caregivers of those living with cancer on how to cope and adjust one’s expectations during holidays and special occasions. • The Alzheimer’s Association provides downloadable holiday tips for caregivers while ElderCare Link has "10 Tips for Coping with Caregiver Blues During the Holidays." • Discovery Health’s mental health section focuses on "How to Get Through The Holidays Stress-Free With Your Family." • Social Work Today has a 2011 archived article, "Divorce and the Holidays – Putting Children First," while PRWeb has "5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays When Going Through a Divorce." • Keeping You Well provides advice for diabetics, and WebMD offers tips on those who are seeking weight loss. Of course there are many more sites, and many more populations that would likely benefit from a quick, practical checklist of ways to manage the emotions that arise during the holiday season. But while they all hint at ways to find new ways to prepare for and endure the holiday season, I found little that specifically addressed the spiritual issues that arise. For example: • How does one who is grieving find a sense of meaning when joyful holiday songs are being played everywhere they go? • How does someone whose holiday ritual is attending religious services cope when they are hospitalized and unable to participate? • When diagnosed with a life-threatening or terminal illness, what are ways that person and their loved ones confront and discuss the fact that it might be their last holiday season? • What ways can caregivers of dementia patients who are wrestling with the memories of how their loved ones used to be before their illness seek hope in the present reality? As chaplains and health care providers, what are the ways that we manage these situations that often reveal deep spiritual distress? Do we simply hand out “Making It Through The Holidays” lists that others have prepared, or do we create ones that directly address the spiritual needs that occur? As the holidays approach, this is a project that can be valuable to chaplaincy practice and how departments prepare for a clear and specific way of providing care to those who are in their setting. What list would you create?

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