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ENJOYING THE HOLIDAYS AS A CAREGIVER

By Kayla Giacin
Thursday, December 6, 2012

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost half-way through December, Thanksgiving has already passed and the holidays are already here!  CBTF is gearing up for our AYA Holiday Party at Dave and Buster’s as well as our Family Holiday Party at Beth Israel Hospital, both being held this weekend.  Amidst all the excitement and busyness that accompanies the holiday season, families who are struggling with a sick child are often left feeling overwhelmed and wonder how they can feel a part of traditional festivities when they have to put so much time and energy into caring for their child.  CancerCare published an article on the role of a caregiver around the holiday season and mentioned some difficult feelings that are common among them.  These include: “Saying “no” to taking on new roles that may come up during special occasions, feeling guilty about not doing the things everyone has come to expect, hesitating to ask for help with tasks or for time off from a traditional role and coping with a lack of sleep and feeling tired.”

Since holidays are so deeply rooted in tradition, many people feel as if there are letting their family or loved ones down when they change how they manage their time during the holidays.  You might feel sad when others seem happy. There are some things that might help you to cope and manage your feelings during this time that can still also make it a special time.

Although it’s important to keep a sense of normalcy among your family during a cancer diagnosis, it’s also important to remain flexible.  It’s hard not to feel sad that things are different than they used to be or that you can’t keep all of the traditions that you used to have.  While traditions are fun and meaningful, it’s good to create new ones as well.  New traditions might bring a different and renewed sense of togetherness to your family.  Involve everyone to contribute their ideas to make it a very special tradition that is also manageable to the family as a whole.

Many people host parties for family and friends.  If you are usually the host of one of these parties, it is totally acceptable to ask another family member to hold the event at their house.  Many of you may like to remain busy and feel better by participating in something not cancer related.  If this is you, you still might feel overwhelmed in which case something such as a pot-luck party is a lot of fun and brings a feeling of togetherness among people who join in. 

While keeping life exactly the same as “pre-cancer” may be impossible, it’s not outrageous to think that it can still be a special time with some positive aspects as well.  Remaining flexible and involving your entire family can create strong bonds that might not have previously existed and can result in new traditions that can remain a part of your family.

For CancerCare’s original article on this topic go to:  

http://www.cancercare.org/publications/2-for_caregivers_coping_with_holidays_and_special_occasions#adjusting-your-expectations 

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