We are all in the midst of the holiday season and for those affected by mesothelioma this can be an extremely stressful time. I would like to urge those who are in need of support or just a good listener to call, I am in town for the holidays and readily available for a chat. If you would like I can facilitate an exchange of email address or phone numbers for a “buddy” to help you through the holiday. If you have lost touch with a member of the community this would be the perfect time to reach out and renew the relationship. You may find yourself running through a mix of emotions anger that your loved is no longer with you or even anger that they are not well enough to participate in the family traditions. Recognize that these emotions are normal and are part of the grieving process. If you do begin to feel that you can no longer cope reach out to a trained professional for assistance.
Expectations run high during the holidays and we have been trained to try and meet the families expectations less we disappoint someone. This year you might have to set some guidelines for yourself and make some general announcement as to how you can participate in the holiday festivities. Budgets can be particularly tight when you have an ill family member and it might be easier on the wallet and take considerably less time if limit gifts to the small children and if you’d like do a grab bag where you pick a name of one family member to buy for so everyone will have a gift under the tree. If dinner is too difficult you might consider a holiday brunch. If it is too much of a burden on any family member to host it you can consider meeting at a local breakfast place. If your loved one is too sick to attend, you might ask someone to give you some respite care for a few hours thus allowing you the time to be nourished by your loved ones.
For those that have lost loved ones some have told me that establishing new traditions made the day pass easier. Some volunteered at shelters and served dinner, others went to hospitals, nursing homes and some traveled to a far away place finding distance made it easier to fend off the holiday blues. If you have just lost your loved one and are physically and emotionally exhausted and have the means to do so, consider a spa where you can be pampered and begin to heal physically as stress takes a physical toll on all of us. If this is not within your budget, stay home and treat yourself to something special. You must give yourself permission to enjoy life and to heal and the holiday time can be the start of a new year and a new you. We also need to recognize that everyone in the family has been affected by this loss and are in different stages of grieving. A quiet call to discuss how best to handle the holidays can help to avoid misunderstanding or hurt feelings. Being alone is okay, just take some time to decide how much time is healthy for you to be alone. If you are able set a holiday table, prepare a simple meal, light some candles and cherish your memories they will always be with you.
~Mary Hesdorffer, NPClick here to contact Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner or call 877.363.6376