A Guide for Family and Professional Caregivers
The holiday season can bring a wave of emotions, particularly for those who are grappling with loss or experiencing the holiday blues. As a home caregiver, you know your role extends beyond physical assistance; it also involves providing emotional support and understanding during challenging times. Here are some ways you can help your client cope with loss or generally navigate the holiday blues.
Validate Their Experience
The holiday blues or grief aren't just about the loss of a loved one; they can also come from other factors, such as changes in health or feelings of loneliness and isolation. When someone is in that space it helps tremendously to help them feel understood and heard. Validating someone's grief means acknowledging the depth of their emotions without trying to fix or minimize them. It's about providing a safe space for them to express their feelings without judgment. Sometimes our instinct is to give advice and wants to help the person who is grieving feel better, we may say things like “Don’t think too much about it” or “You’ll feel better soon”. Though we mean well when we say things like that it can add to feelings of loneliness. When we’re hurting we really just want to be heard. Try these responses if you feel stuck with what to say to be supportive:
- "I can't imagine how difficult this is for you. It's okay to feel this way."
- "I'm here for you. It's okay to lean on others for support during this challenging time."
- "There's no timeline for grief. Everyone copes differently, and it's okay if it takes time."
- "Your memories and feelings about [the person they've lost] are important and deserve to be honored."
Have open dialogue about their feelings regarding the holidays, and their loss or grief. Create a safe space for them to express their emotions without judgment or pressure. Listen actively and acknowledge that it's okay to feel sadness or grief during this time.
Encourage Self-Care and Explore New Support Systems
Promote self-care practices that can support their emotional well-being. You can try different things, from mindfulness exercises, suggesting healthy dishes, or doing activities that bring them joy. This blog shares some ideas for self-care practices you can share with clients.
Ultimately your best resource is going to be your clients, find out from them what they like to do or used to enjoy doing. Ask them about hobbies that they’ve enjoyed in the past or maybe are curious to learn about. If they are at a loss for ideas, try going out for walks to the park or playing a card game with them. This can help them find joy throughout their day. Maybe they’d like to support a cause that they care about and volunteer some time? This is another way to help them feel connected to a community and purposeful.
Offer Resources and Support
If you feel that they are not coping well with their grief, it may help to connect them with resources like grief counselors, therapists, or support groups specializing in coping with loss. There are even specialized groups that focus on providing support for grief experienced during the holidays. Providing access to these support systems can be a priceless gift for their healing journey and can play a crucial role in their recovery process.
Approach this question gently and first ask if you can make a suggestion. If they are open to it, share what behaviors you’ve noticed that led you to feel that getting support is needed and share the different resources that they can explore. If you feel comfortable with accompanying them you can ask if they’d like for you to go with them. It can help make it less intimidating to go with someone but don’t feel pressure to go, check in with yourself first and know whether you want to offer to go or not. You have to ensure that you feel comfortable. If you have questions about connecting them to the right resources, call your work office and speak to a clinical representative.
Please remember that you can only do so much and though we are offering many different ideas to help your clients cope with loss, if it ever becomes too heavy of a lift consult a family member and your care team to discuss other ways you can support.
If you're searching for a workplace that not only supports you but also recognizes the dedication and effort put into caregiving, look no further than Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA). Our caregivers are proud co-owners of our home care business, creating a supportive and understanding environment. Don't hesitate to give us a call and experience the difference for yourself.