Even at the best of times, holidays can be stressful and overwhelming. Especially this year, when during the holiday season we face additional challenges due to quarantining, more anxiety not only regarding our own health, but the health of our loved ones and of course the travel restrictions. Planning for the holidays, when one of your loved ones is in hospice care and experiencing his/her end-of-life journey can be difficult. Even more so now that we have additional stressors which make thinking and planning ahead even more important.
Many of us will choose to social distance ourselves from friends and family during the holiday season in order to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19. Some of us might also feel pressure to maintain and participate in traditions like we used to, even though they might not seem ‘right’ this year. But, we need to understand that it’s perfectly okay to do things differently and create new traditions that feel right. After all, social distancing could be a good way to show our loved ones in hospice (who are the “at-risk” demographic) that we do care about their safety and health.
Instead of feeling sad and depressed about social distance, we need to look at things from a different angle. Thanks to modern day technology, social distancing doesn’t necessary have to mean social isolation as well. Smartphones, tablets and all the other gadgets out there still allow us to stay in touch with our loved ones, even if we are not there in person.
One of the biggest “players” during the pandemic are social media platforms. They keep us connected to each other and reduce everyone’s feelings of loneliness dramatically. So even if you had to cancel your holiday visits to a hospice patient, you can still (and we recommend that you should) stay in touch with them over the phone or through video calls.
We understand that a video call through FaceTime cannot substitute (not even closely) spending real time with your loved ones, in-person. But, we should think of it as an important and temporary communication tool during these difficult times. In addition to staying in touch not only with hospice family, but with every member of the family during this holiday season, make sure that you send out holiday cards with photos and notes in them. Instead of doing it one time, during the holiday “rush” try making it a weekly thing, both before and throughout the holidays. This will show your loved ones that they are in your thoughts frequently if not all the time, and will make them feel special, less left out, lonely or isolated.