As holiday preparations are in full swing, we are continually reminded of the anticipation, excitement, and fun traditions that are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends in the comforts of our homes and communities. We are busy planning holiday dinners… addressing holiday cards… baking (and eating:) goodies… making last minute purchases (and hoping they arrive in time:)…and maybe even creating a little mischief with elves! The list can be exhilarating and downright overwhelming all at the same time!
But the holiday season can also be a time of disappointment, anxiety and sadness for families that cannot be together at the holidays due to a medical challenge, deployment, or loss of a loved one. A childhood illness, disease or injury that requires a child to be hospitalized, or an unexpected medical event with a spouse or parent during the holiday season, can lead to intense emotional stress. Young children and families find it difficult to cope with separation due to military deployment during the holiday season. And mourning the loss of a loved one can be particularly challenging around the holiday season when memories of holiday traditions shared together are a constant reminder of a devastating loss.
So what can WE do to help those that cannot be Home for the Holidays?
Lets discover inspiring ways to help those that are not able to be home or be with their loved ones this holiday season.
♥Inspire them with strength & bravery… Write or print inspiring quotes or scripture verses on address labels and apply them to small items (granola bars, mini water bottles, travel tissue packs, travel size toiletries, mini hand sanitizers, breath mints). Small items like these are helpful and practical when anxiety levels are high. An inspiring quote or scripture verse lets them know that you have empathy for their emotional well-being, as well as concern for their physical need for nourishment, hydration and self-care.
♥Inspire their care team to maintain their efforts to deliver the best possible care by providing a little extra love and attention to the dedicated professionals tending to their needs. Families feel a deep sense of gratitude and a strong desire to develop interpersonal connections with the professionals that provide care to them and their children during their times of need or crisis. And while the holiday season often means time-off of work for many people in many professions…For others, the call of duty doesn’t take a break when the holidays arrive. Nurses, physicians, soldiers, police officers, firefighters…
Help families express their sense of gratitude and help them develop meaningful connections with these dedicated professionals by providing a basket of small treats to help them refuel during long night shifts or during holiday coverage that often keeps them from their families too.
We LOVE the Nurses Bait concept! Provide extra candy to restock the supply (which will be gobbled up quickly)! Adapt as desired for use with other dedicated professionals.
♥These brave children and families inspire us to deepen our compassion, empathy, love, and understanding of their needs at times when they are experiencing difficulty. Offer to take care of small daily tasks that are difficult for them to manage in the midst of a medical or emotional challenge. Get the mail at their home, help to provide childcare coverage to younger or older siblings, bring a tired parent or caregiver a hot cup of coffee, or provide a compassionate shoulder for them to lean on. Offer to help assist with a holiday tradition that is meaningful to them. Sometimes something as simple as a warm embrace is more meaningful and helpful than spoken words.
♥Inspire a modified holiday celebration. Be cautious with food and live plants/flowers in medical settings. Food and flowers are often prohibited on certain units due to infection control policies and immunodeficiency concerns. Many patients are not permitted to eat if they are awaiting testing or surgery. And the true magic of the holidays is not really about food and gifts….It is found in the expressions of love that we have with those around us. Check the visiting hours & policies. Bring part of your holiday celebration to them. Watch a lighthearted holiday movie together. Help make their room or space festive when they cannot be in the comfort of their own home for the holidays. Set-up a miniature artificial tree with small plastic or fabric ornaments, or thick ribbon & clothespins to hook photos of their loved ones, pets, etc.
♥Listen to their needs. Pray with them. Hug them. Reassure them that they are not alone in their journey, even if it is occurring throughout the busy holiday season. And know that your simple acts of compassion and love mean more to them than any expensive or fancy gift ever could or would.
Together we can help to reduce anxiety and improve the connections between children, families, educators & healthcare professionals.
Please share Child Inspired’s blog with your friends and colleagues. Share a piece of your story or an idea. Leave a comment… How is a child in your life inspiring you this holiday season?
Warmest wishes for a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!