Valentine’s Day is here and we at Sierra Hospice wish you a wonderful day filled with good feelings. If you are a caregiver you may be wondering what sort of things you can do to make this Valentine’s day special for the person you are caring for. It is difficult, sometimes, to know what to do on the holidays when you have a loved one on hospice or palliative care, but there are things that you can do to make the day special for yourself and for your loved one.
Keep to any traditions that you can over the holidays. Special dinners and deserts are often favorite traditions that you can do at home, and movies, TV shows, and books are often woven into family traditions in one way or another. And just because you may not be able to go out to a favorite restaurant doesn’t mean you may not be able to get food to-go. Whatever you normally would be doing try to get creative and recreate that same sort of mood, atmosphere, or vibe wherever you are. It does not have to be big or elaborate, but it is okay to take a day to celebrate a holiday with someone and they may enjoy getting a chance to engage with the holiday, as well, as a way to brighten their day or week.
Sierra Hospice runs a small thrift store called Forget-Me-Not and thrift stores are always fantastic places to find cheaper holiday decorations, especially if you are into crafting or repurposing other items for your decorations. There are many great ideas for DIY Valentine’s decor available online if that is the route you want to take. Of course many people already have more than enough decorations for each holiday so just remembering that it is okay to take some time to decorate and celebrate is important for caregivers. Even if the person you are caring for does not seem to care about the holidays, it can still be great for self-care to keep up with the holiday and make the house a nice one.
Caregiving is a 24/7 job that takes everything you have to give. If you read through some of our other articles on this site you’ll probably notice that many are about self-care for caregivers because it is just so vitally important. Holidays can be incredibly hard, if you’ve lost someone you might find yourself thinking of them more on holidays, especially ones that were particularly important to you or them. So letting yourself take care of yourself a bit can be a great way to reduce stress and to help focus on the good memories rather than the sense of loss. All this to say that it is perfectly okay to buy yourself a box of chocolates. Or deliver a dozen roses to yourself. Or find a chance to go out and enjoy an event or a movie or just take a walk or meditate or get some coffee. If you are a caregiver you probably face the same issue many face with feeling bad for trying to do things for yourself when caring for another, but it is so important to make sure that you are at your best to help them, and part of being at your best is taking care of yourself as well. Holidays can be a great reminder to caregivers that it is not selfish to want to do things that make you feel good. And feeling better can help lower stress, which helps get more sleep, which also helps to reduce stress, which means you are able to better care for others if you take some care of yourself.
Talking about past holidays is always a great conversation started. Your loved one probably has so many memories of past holidays that they’d love to share with you (or, if they are like my family, they want to share the same stories of past holidays every year!) and talking is great for both of you. It can be easy to have communication between a caregiver and the one they are caring for become almost entirely about what needs to happen right now, the practical realities of caregiving mean there needs to be a lot of communication but not always a lot of time to just sit, talk, and listen to one another. Valentine’s day can be a great time to do that and it can be so beneficial to both of you as you work through this process together.
Sometimes holidays can feel more overwhelming than other days, so please know that if you ever need any extra help with a hospice patient or have questions about hospice or palliative care, or just need some help and encouragement to keep going as a caregiver, we are available to help so feel free to contact Sierra Hospice anytime.
And if this day is hard because you have lost someone, know that there is no time limit on grief, and that if you are really struggling reaching out and asking for help or for others to take some of the burden of your loss off of you, we and many other community resources are available to help you get through the holidays as best you can.