Monday, December 14, 2015

Dealing with grief & loss during the holiday

Many people are greatly affected by ongoing media coverage of national and international tragedies that have played out in recent weeks, just ahead of the holidays. And for those individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one, the holiday season can also be a particularly painful time. 

Hospice professionals, who are experts in helping people deal with feelings of loss and grief, recognize how difficult the holidays can be for some. NHPCO offers helpful suggestions as the holiday season moves forward.

1. Be understanding and supportive if someone wants to do things differently this holiday season.  Some people find strength in long established traditions while others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It’s okay to do things differently.

2. Offer to help with decorating or holiday cooking. Both tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving or overwhelmed by events going on in the world around us. Lending a hand can be a great way to let someone know you’re thinking about them and their wellbeing.

3. Invite someone to join you or your family during the holidays.  If someone you know seems down or depressed, consider inviting them to join you for a holiday concert, religious service or a holiday meal where they are a guest. You might even offer to accompany them on a holiday shopping trip where a friend and extra set of hands can be helpful.

4. Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a soup kitchen, staffing a coat drive, or working with children, may lift your spirits and help everyone feel better about the holidays.

5. Never tell someone that he or she should get ‘over it.’  It can be important to acknowledge that a friend or loved one is struggling. Don’t discount their emotions, but give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.

6. Be willing to listen.  Don’t avoid someone because you don’t know what to say. Active listening from friends and family is an important step to helping someone coping with grief or overwhelming feelings of loss. Letting them share their feelings can help healing.

7. Don’t be afraid to remember someone who has died.  When someone is grieving, it is okay to let them know that you are thinking of the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.

8. Follow up after the holidays to check in.  Given the activity of the season, some people may make it through the holidays without any issues but they might find the post-holiday period to be more difficult. So circling back after the holidays to see how he or she is doing can help.
Many hospice and palliative care programs throughout the country host seasonal events for the community that bring feelings of peace and goodwill such as the Festival of Trees, an annual event from Hospice & Community Care in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Carrying Hospice Messages to New Audiences

In recent weeks, millions of people have had the opportunity to learn more about hospice and palliative care through outreach and efforts of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and National Hospice Foundation.

American Airlines - Travelers in business and first-class on American Airlines will see a short film that may challenge everything they think they know about hospice care.  The new video portrays the meaningful moments that can still happen, despite a life-limiting serious or terminal illness and shatters the myth that choosing hospice is “giving up.”  The video shows real hospice patients from across the U.S. who kept on living fully and cherishing special moments spent with family and friends. 

Hospice video on American Airlines

The film will be broadcast to approximately a quarter-million travelers this fall, on more than 5,800 American Airlines video-equipped flights. It will also be shared via the National Hospice Foundation and social media sources to help people understand the many benefits of hospice and palliative care.

Costco Members - NHPCO worked with the editor of Costco’s member publication, Costco Connection, sharing information about hospice care in the November issue’s Health Calendar column. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and the Costco Connection health tip provided key messages about hospice care.

The online version of the November Costco Connection includes a link to an educational video “What is Hospice?”  It addresses common questions many people have, including: “When is it time for hospice?” and “How can hospice help a patient and family?”

To learn more about hospice and palliative care or to find a provider in your area, visit the Moments of Life website.