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Managing Christmas when you or your loved one are dying

Managing Christmas When You Or Your Loved One Are Dying

Christmas and the festive period can be a very emotional time for families if you or your loved one has a terminal diagnosis. TV adverts, decorated shops, festive social media posts and everyone seemingly filled with festive cheer, can be incredibly difficult to see when it could be the last Christmas you spend together. It may also be hard for loved ones to know how to act, knowing they don’t have long left with a family member.

If you struggle with the anticipation and excitement in the lead up to Christmas, then you are not alone.

Here are some suggestions to help make Christmas more manageable:

There’s no right or wrong way to feel. We all cope and manage differently, so talk through how you feel with someone close or a professional, who you know will provide the type of support you need. You may need someone who will listen to you or someone who can offer practical support like decorating, buying presents, wrapping or cooking the dinner etc.

Suggest an alternative to presents, a way to spend some time together, such as a meal, trip out or a festive games or movie night.

Plan ahead and find out who to contact if you have a problem or need any medical information over the Bank holidays and ensure you have all the prescription medicines you need. Having care planning conversations with family and friends could also be useful (it may be hard, but will be a relief when it is done).

Don’t put any pressure on yourself, don’t feel you have to see everyone or commit to everything. Try breaking the period up into smaller chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Do what feels right for you. Christmas may feel very different to previous years and you may feel under pressure to make the day extra special or follow certain traditions, but remember there is no right or wrong way to celebrate.

Allow for plans to change, they can be dependent on your physical and mental health throughout the day.

It’s fine to express all emotions. Just because it is Christmas please don’t feel that you are burdening anyone by showing fear, concern or sadness.

Do what you feel like doing on the day, focus on what you enjoy and want or need to do. Watch a favourite movie, listen to your favourite songs, download an audio book and rest if you need to.

Allow for some alone time, if you would like it – take a bath, a nap, get some fresh air, whatever you need.

Involve your children in the discussions around Christmas if  you can, to ensure they feel included. Have an honest conversation with them and be realistic in what can and can’t be achieved.

Go outside if you are able to when things feel overwhelming, fresh air and nature can be incredibly calming. We’ve created a walk checklist to keep little one’s occupied  which is free to download.

For further support, please contact our helpline Monday-Friday, 9.30-12.30pm: 01342 313895.

Our office and helpline are closed from Friday 22nd December 2022 – Tuesday 2nd January 2023. If you or someone you know needs support during this time please see the In Emergency section of our website.

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