Holidays with Hospice
For people that have not spent much time with hospice patients or hospice care the idea of taking the time to celebrate while someone is on dying might seem strange. It does, on the surface, appear not to be the time to celebrate, but of course it can be one of the most important times to celebrate. For the patients, anything that can help to make the process feel normal is extremely important. Getting to see friends and family is a priority. Spending time getting to celebrate whatever traditions you can, or making new ones, can be great for mental health which can make the process better for everyone.
For family members, friends, and caregivers, celebrating holidays can be a chance to get to spend time with their terminally ill loved ones. It is not just about saying goodbye, but about having time to be with them. Share memories of past get togethers, listen to them talk if they want to talk, or just talk to them about what is going on in your life if they don’t feel up to talking. Treat them like you normally would and you’ll find that you can feel comfortable with them and they will feel more comfortable too.
While I write this it is December which is colloquially known as the holiday season. Many people celebrate different holidays this time of year which is why I write this now, but any time of year there can be holidays, celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and many other reasons to celebrate. Hospice patients may struggle to keep up with too busy of a social calendar but you can always make them part of the celebration if they want to be included. It is important for everyone to keep them as a normal part of their lives until the end of life, and while there will be more tears, more emotions, more intense moments, there will also be many moments of levity, of laughter, of memories new and old.
Everyone deals with end of life issues differently, but there is a reasons we all spend so much of our lives celebrating different days of the year or different occasions – these things are a major and important part of life. If you want to spend the holidays with hospice patients you absolutely should, as even at the end of life, perhaps especially at the end of life, holidays and celebrations are still a vitally important part of life.