But maybe you aren’t feeling like it. These are the sights and sounds of special days like holidays. But after the loss of someone dear to us, holidays become a dreaded thing. Something it’s hard to know how to approach. A mixture of emotions flood the mind and heart.
There was a time when this special day meant the light hearted fun and warmth that I am describing, but now these sights and sounds bring sadness, loneliness, and a sense of loss. Sometimes it’s a matter of not knowing what to do with the special day because in the past that special day has been surrounded by activities and time with the person you lost. So let’s talk about that. What can we do, besides hide, with special days like holidays after the loss of a loved one.
7 Keys for Coping with Loss on Holidays and Other Special Days:
1)Plan for the Pain:
While, natural instinct is the put on the brakes and be dragged into this day or season kicking and screaming because it is oh so painful, plan ahead for this struggle. Take some quiet time for yourself now to make a plan for the special day. Write down the elements that are hard: feelings, specific situations, and other triggers. Now keep these in mind as we talk about dealing with them
2)Set up your Environment for Success:
Surround yourself with bright colors, cheerful music, keep the blinds/curtains open in your home during the day to bring the natural light in. This is a way of surrounding yourself with things that provide cheer to you. Then you can plan the time and place for feeling the sadness, loneliness, and other negative emotions, but you are not feeling them all the time. Studies have shown that both a lighter environment and cheerful music can deeply impact our emotions. Another way you can shape your environment is by having a safe spot to go to when you are needing comfort. A comfy chair with a blanket, spot for hot tea… You get the point.
3)Provide Specific Times for You to Feel the Sadness and Grief
Set up a comfortable place in your home that feels warm and safe. Have a warm cup of something. Plan a specific time for yourself there each day. Then sit, read the Bible or other inspirational book, pray, and/or journal. Pay your feelings the respect they deserve. You may also want to call and talk to a close friend or family member during this time.
4)Surround Yourself with the Best Kind of Social Activities.
Plan out what get togethers, parties, and outings you will do this day or season, ahead of time. Then you are prepared with an answer when someone asks. It’s ok to say “no.” You kind of know in your gut which outings are going to be the best for you during this time. Capitalize on the ones with close friends that bring you encouragement and support and stay away from the ones that seem hard and lack meaning for you. Then if you don’t have a significant other to go with you, find a friend to go with you, so you don’t have to attend them alone.
5)Have Regular Talks with Your “Go To” Friends and Family
Let those close people in your life know what you are going through. Talk to them regularly. Let them know what they can do to support and help you through this. People want to help. Often, though, they don’t know what to do. Make sure you have those people in your life that you don’t have to pretend with, but can genuinely talk to.
6)Find a Way to Do Something Special During the Holidays to Remember the Person and What They Enjoyed
You can start something new or continue something you’ve always done in honor of the person you lost or have a special holiday item to bring back memories for you. Be intentional about sharing memories together of your past with that loved one.
What do you need to do to provide your loss the respect it needs to bring healing?
It’s daunting…There are so many other things to think about. I hear women talk about it all the time. It feels hard to make night time dinner at home. We have so much going on with caring for others, meeting our responsibilities, trying to keep up, and dealing with the food challenges with the people we love.
But the fact is that studies show that hands down, when we eat out, we eat more calories, more sugar, and more fat than when we eat at home. One of my most favorite things as a coach is helping you to make self-care easier. Here are some ways to make eating at home easier.
1)Make a Plan:
Don’t start thinking about dinner a half hour before you need it. Plan ahead. Write a simple plan for the next few days, week, or two weeks. Sometimes it will change but at least you have an idea. This makes dinner faster and less daunting.
2)Buy Foods that are Partially Prepared for You:
We have so many options now with pre-seasoned meats, precut veggies, salad kits, rotisserie chicken, and meal services. Take advantage of them. Yes, they are often more expensive. But they are probably not as expensive as eating out or medical bills that come from not eating healthy.
3)Account for Your Nightly Schedule:
Plan for busy nights or nights when you know struggles like sundowners or tired kids is going to be more of an issue. On the nights that I work or we have activities, I plan meals that are faster to make and eat. We will often eat soup or a one pot meal. I often think about meats that will be faster to cook like fish, eggs, tuna melts, or grilling meat.
4)Prepare Food in Advance:
Make a double batch so you can have it again as leftovers. The most daunting part of dinner to me is doing the protein, meat or otherwise. It is helpful to prebrown meat or grill a bunch of chicken or make a lot of shredded meat in the Crockpot or Instant Pot. Then you will have it for another night of eating at home. One trick I have found is that when you freeze the meat, that you will use for another day, right after you cook it, it tastes more fresh and heats up better the next time you use it.
5)Use Tools to Help Make Things Faster:
Use tools like a Crockpot, where you can put food in and let it cook for the day, or an Instant Pot that cooks things faster. Use websites or apps that provide meal plans or ways of organizing meal planning and grocery lists. Here is an article that reviews some of the available meal planning tools.
Dinnertime can be a daunting time to eat healthy. But there is a lot that you can do to make it easier. Simply start by using some of the hints above. Then keep it as simple as possible. Focus on the most important parts of the meal…having a healthy protein and fruit and vegetables.
How Do You Know When It Is Time For Outside Help For Your Loved One? The question brings a heaviness in and of itself, but if this heaviness is something you are experiencing right now, Friend. I can also tell you there is deep HOPE that comes from recognizing a need for outside help caring for your love one. Outside help can mean anything from homecare to having a friend help to adult day care to time in a care facility.
So I am going to go right to the benefits of getting outside help.
The benefits for your loved one include:
a chance to have fun in a different context
another pair of eyes seeing what might be needed to help your loved one thrive
help from someone that may have a different approach that helps to make things go smoother
being comfortable with others
The benefits for you, as the caregiver include:
physical and emotional rest
someone to help trouble shoot current challenges
a chance to enjoy the relationship because someone else is helping with care
a chance to do something else you enjoy
stepping back helps to see things differently
someone to do the tasks you do not like as well
someone sharing in the burden
time to rediscover who you are
a chance to get some of that to do list done.
Here are some indications that it is time:
1)You find yourself exhausted and feeling like you can’t keep up with everything that needs to be done
2)You are concerned about the safety of your loved one with your current way of doing things
3)You have lost a sense of your relationship and joy in your time together
4)You are having physical problems from the day in and day out care tasks
5)You feel at the end of your rope
6)You and your loved one are fighting or at each other
7)Your loved one is bored
8)You want to get away for an event and know it is unrealistic for your loved one to go
9)You are unsure how to meet your loved ones needs and trouble shooting the problems doesn’t seem to yield answers
10)You are curious about getting outside care and the benefits of it
If one of these indicators rings true for you, care could be a real help. If several of these indicators ring true for you, care could be vital for you and your loved one. Though I know that bridge is hard to cross. There is so much hope and good that can come from getting outside care. Let me know if I can be of help in feeling your way through whether it is time for outside assistance.
“We all live in our reality bubble. My mom’s is just more colorful than most.”
– Dementia Daughter
I saw this on Facebook the other day on the “Dementia Awareness Every Day” page. Great page, by the way, I recommend checking it out if you love someone with a dementia. This is the perfect example of dancing in the moment. Dancing in the moment is both a literal and figurative thing when it comes to caring for someone with dementia. So let’s talk for a second about what that really means.
Have you ever been swept off your feet into a dance? I have. My hubby loves to spontaneously dance in the kitchen. Sometimes I feel a little kooky doing it. But what dancing in the moment does is take advantage of that one moment, not assuming that there will be more moments, having fun right then and there, and dancing the second you think of it. Because you know that in that second that is what you can and want. You take the chance before it slips away.
When you dance with your loved one in the moment, you don’t plan for fun. You don’t assume that there will be a future. You take advantage of the moment you have together right then and use it. When it comes to illness especially dementia, if you want to dance it is important to take the time for the fun of dancing right then.
Dancing in the moment involves both partners coming together in that moment and riding the same wave (another metaphor :)). It doesn’t matter whether I think my husband’s dancing is silly because we abandon those thoughts then we can really just enjoy ourselves in the moment.
I can have fun with him because I am willing to sacrifice composure and judging to enjoy him. It is the same way when a loved one has dementia or just doesn’t think as clearly anymore. When we dance with them in the moment, we are joining them in their reality. It doesn’t matter whether it is accurate or not. It is choosing not to judge, argue, or let ourselves become embarrassed by their reality and instead join them. And for that moment no matter how quick it does you can enjoy abandoning reality together.
Are you kidding? It’s up to me to make sure everything runs smoothly and happens in our household. But I can’t do it. Have you ever found yourself thinking this? Household Management can seem overwhelming.
I felt it. Felt swamped by it. And still do in some moments. When we have changes in household situations, like when I went back to work things had to shift again. I admit there are times where I feel scattered. (Usually that’s a sign that I need to say “no” to something) However, since I started seeing myself as the manager of the household making sure that everything flows like we need. That has freed me up to find the best ways to do that. And I find it kind of fun. (By the way, have you heard the latest number on how much with all of the tasks moms do the medium salary would be $162,581.)
My brain cannot handle taking care of all of those household management details by itself. I am just being honest. So I am always looking for tools that will help me stay on top of our schedules and the things that need to get done each day. I wanted to share with you what I use and the links to these or similar products. But everyone’s needs are different. And everyone’s minds work differently too. I am not by any means saying this is what everyone should do. But here are some of the tools that I use to help our household flow smoothly.
Google Calendar: I keep all of our schedules in Google Calendar. It is an electronic calendar that I access through the app in my phone and through my laptop. Each person in our household has their own calendar in their own color. I also have two different work calendars. Then I can choose whether all of those calendars are showing in my master calendar or whether I just have some of them showing. My husband also has access to these from his phone or computer and adds to them as needed. In addition, we have several Amazon Echos and my girls can add to the calendar with these.
Refrigerator Calendar: At the beginning of each month I write the family appointments on this calendar that are important for my girls and husband to see at a glance.
Fantastical 2: I use this which incorporates my Google Calendar and is compatible with my Apple Watch to access my calendar without having my phone with me. I am still experimenting with this when it comes to meal planning and grocery lists.
Full Focus Planner: I use my planner to map our my priorities, schedule, and tasks for each day. It is kind of like my to do list. It also keeps notes that I take during the day and goals that I have for the long term. It helps to keep my priorities right in front of me. I only use this at home and at work meetings.
Magenetic To Do Lists: We have a to do list chart for each kid on the refrigerator that helps them keep track of the jobs that they have to do. Sometimes we also use it to help them keep track of homework and instrument practicing.
Menu Board: I write the meal plan for the week on this. My family hastles me though because I do not always stick with the idea that is on the schedule depending on changes that happen in the calendar and my mood on a day. There is also a spot on the menu board for my family to write in grocery items that we need when they run out.
Magnetic Storage Pockets: I use magnetic pockets on the side of the deep freeze to keep each child’s school newsletters, login information, order forms in that need to be kept until we are done using them. The remaining pocket I use to keep math fact flash cards in.
Bins: I keep a bin for each of the older kids papers once they have come home after being graded. This way we can go back and look at the paper if there seems to be a dispute in the recorded grades online. We pretty much just put the papers in and forget them but they are there if we need them.
Of course, there are many other things that help to keep us on top of household management everything from apps on my phone to bookshelves and desk organizers. These tools are so helpful. They help me to develop systems to use time and time again so that I don’t have to rethink my processes. That is what makes them so helpful and save time. I hope these are helpful and would love to hear what you do to stay organized.
I sat down and took a deep breathe. Dreaming and goal setting for the year is something I love to do.
But I felt overwhelmed as I sat down with my coffee and yellow pad.
So I started by looking back over 2018. And a smile stretched over my face. I started scribbling down, what went well. …enjoyed dates with my girls …read many good books …said “no” more often to be realistic. I enjoyed reflecting. I asked myself, “What were the challenges of the year?” And I winced and learned as I thought through those parts of the year too. As I continued with my review of the year, I got my stride and forgot my hesitation.
What about you? There are different ways to look back over the year. One friend of mind has her kids write what they are thankful for throughout the year and them read them back on New Years Day. That is a kind of review. Other people may sit and talk about memories of the year past.
Why should we care about a review of the year?
For you, last year may have been one that you would rather not look back on. There may have been some really hard parts. Or maybe last year did not seem like anything special to look back on. But here is what happens when we do a review of the year. We can:
-enjoy again the joys of the year
-learn from what happened during the year to fuel what we do this year
-see the beauty of how others or God impacted our lives.
-work through unfinished business from last year
-make more educated decisions about the new year
-see the whole picture of what took place during the year that we could not see up close.
Because let’s face it often times in the small moments of the year we can’t see anything but that moment. So moments that are dark and blurry look like this:
While other moments that seemed like nothing special, might have looked something like this to you:
But when we take the time to look back. We often can see more of the picture or even the big picture on some of the things that happened during the year. When we take a look at the big picture. We are able to see this:
Then what seemed so hard to look back on or like nothing special turns into a view of the masterpiece that happened last year. Yes, it might still be hard and maybe all of the pieces don’t seem masterful. But with a view of the whole we can gain appreciation for what happened in the year and information to help us see where to move and how to be in the year in front of us.
How do we go about doing it?
If you are interested in doing a review like this, download my free review of the year worksheet below. And let me know what you find out.
I can’t remember where I first heard about having a word for the year. But it was a couple of years ago and I really liked the idea of it. I’m going to be honest, I don’t have any trouble finding or coming up with ideas for growing and improving my life. However, unless I am intentional about them, they just continue to swirl in my mind. Throughout the year, I love making my swirling ideas tangible and physical. The word of the year has helped me do this.
Others like philanthropist, Melinda Gates and mom blogger Crystal Paine have used this idea to help direct their intentions and actions for the year.
My Experience with a Word of the Year:
2017 was the first year that I had a word for the year. My word was “Understanding.” I chose this word as I was in the early beginnings of my coaching business. One of my core values in my coaching business and in relationships is to understand where people are coming from. It’s easy for me to take on the mindset of judger, but I knew that to show people the care I wanted to and to help people grow through my coaching my base had to be understanding.
Then in 2018, my word of the year was “Realistic.” I really needed this word. I had moved from being a staying at home mom dabbling in coaching to making it a full time job. What I could say “yes” to and be involved in was vastly different and this was hard for me. Because I am a “yes” girl. I hated to say “no” to people and I also just love being involved in all kinds of things. This word helped to remind me to be realistic about my resources of time and energy and how my use of them would impact my family
Making It a Part of Life:
There are different ways to make the word of the year a regular part of life. For me, I have mulled it over and been at a place where I understood what it meant for me. Then I would post it and bring it to mind often. That was all I needed to make it a part of everyday life. It represented my priorities for the year. It would pop up in my mind and I would be forced to think about that word as a value and try to evaluate whether I was using it as I needed to.
Some other ways to make a word of the year work for you are:
1)Think of a characteristic or principle that would connect you back to why you do what you do.
2)Define what it means- listing out how it will play out in everyday life
3)Make a plan for what you want it to look like in action each month
4)Recognize obstacles that may come up that might keep you from putting the word into practice
5)Do this with someone else to have the support and accountability needed to make it a part of life
Let me share what happened as a result. One of the biggest complements I get is when a client says that it has been helpful to meet with me for sessions to have someone that is non-judgemental to work through struggles they are facing. I am only an effective tool for others if I seek to understand where they are coming from. Making that my word in 2016 launched me on that path. It doesn’t mean that I am perfect at it. I still struggle to make sure that is where I am coming from. However, through using the idea of word of the year I put that value at the forefront of my mind.
Last year, I was able to move to a place of reality when it came to my weekly activities. It looked really different then the year before and it was hard. I had to say it outloud several times, but I was able to be realistic and say “no” to the things that were better for me to say “no” to and “yes” to my best yeses that reflected the budget of time and energy I had.
My word for 2019 is actually a phrase. It is “All In.” When I am spending time with God, my hubby, or my kids I want to be “all in” in that moment. I don’t want to be planning out other things or making lists. My word for my coaching practice is “Bold Care.” I am excited to see how these priorities guide my year!
So what about you, is there a focus or value you need to be intentional about this year? What is it?
It was the best of times it was the worst of times. (from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) The Christmas season can definitely feel that way when we go through hard times. Every one around is happy and joyful and it feels like we should be too. But it is important to do Christmas differently when it feels hard.
I don’t know what’s on your mind today and why it’s hard. Maybe it’s because illness has been a big part of this season in your life and you are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because you are in financial hardship and affording warm clothes let alone Christmas presents sounds like a nightmare. Or maybe there has been a loss of someone you love. Experiencing that loss has caused so much sorrow and when you think about the empty chair at the table or your empty arms you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Whatever it is that is causing that sadness in the pit of your stomach. You are not alone. You’re on my heart today and I want to share with you some important things to do to ease the strain during this time.
Here are some things to think about…
Honor Your Feelings
Sometimes we try to push out or pretend those feelings don’t exist because everyone around us is happy and we think we should be happy too. But that really doesn’t help. It is important to take the time to acknowledge those feelings. It’s ok to talk to a friend about them or journal about them. It is important to take care of yourself in this way.
Do It Easier
Caring for yourself in this time also means being realistic about what events you go to and what people you are around. Be careful to choose the experiences that mean the most to you. Don’t run yourself raggid. Make sure you plan in plenty of down time.
Caring for yourself in this time also means being realistic about what events you go to and what people you are around. Be careful to choose the experiences that mean the most to you. Don’t run yourself raggid. Make sure you plan in plenty of down time.
Take Care of Your Needs
Times that feel hard are especially taxing on our body and our minds. So it is doubly important to draw attention to your self-care. This means eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and drawing attention to your other needs.
Be Honest with Others
Don’t try to fit yourself into a mold that you cannot do right now. Be honest with the people closest to you about what is doable during this season and what you cannot do. Think of ways that others can help and support you. Let them know these ways that they can help you.
Prepare What to Say:
Tired of answering the question, “How are you doing?” Think through what you want to tell others when they ask that, so you can answer in a way that you are comfortable and divulges just the amount of information you want to.
Incorporate a New Activity or Tradition to Honor the Loss or Person You Lost.
Think of a way to incorporate what you are going through into you everyday activities.
Find the Good:
Look for a 2 or 3 things that are positive to focus your mind on each day. If you have faith in God, look for ways that you seem him speaking to you and showing you his presence.
Friend, this can be such a hard time. But know that there is joy that can be found amidst the hardship. There are ways to take care of yourself to ease the strain and incorporate the relationships you need during this hard season.
Every year I love watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” It Makes Me Laugh Every Single Time! There are so many cringe worthy moments in the movie. These moments are tension spots where they are trying to work around everyone’s idiosyncrasies.
In the movie, they are funny but in real life…not so much.
In real life, everyone’s idiosyncracies can be tension spots around the holiday dinner table. I can think immediately about tension spots that have come up holiday events I have been to. They have included someone bringing up politics, mentioning a gifted item already owned, disagreeing about a faith belief… You get the point.
What choice do you have to make peace within these tension spots? There may be times when some of these things can be discussed in a certain context, but often the holiday dinner table is not the best place for this. So let’s talk about how to bring peace to the tension spots. Some of these can be simple and others a little more challenging. Here are:
7 Things that Can Be Done to Bring Peace in the Tension Spots:
1)Decide on a seating arrangement for people who can sit together with like interests
This sets up your guests to enjoy each other’s company instead of mixing like oil and water and rubbing each other the wrong way.
2)Talk to people ahead of time that have a tendency to bring up tension spots
Ask them if there might be a better time to talk about those topics with others.
3)Have light hearted discussion prompts ready
There are so many light hearted and fun things to talk about including favorite traditions, trivia, funniest Christmas memory. Let’s focus on these things.
4)Keep alcohol to a minimum
Let’s face it, some of us react better then others when it comes to alcohol. Alcohol can loosen tongues or mess with emotions in a way that takes us away from peace.
5)Atmosphere and the tone you set in the atmosphere make a difference
As the host you have the chance to set a positive atmosphere with tone of voice, decor, music, etc. Take the time to set that atmosphere.
6)Don’t assume that you can have dinner together with everyone
There may be some people that you need to get together with at a different time. Or there may be others to not invite at all because this person just tends to cause tension. Weigh those things as you are deciding who to invite.
You may be wondering what to do if you are not the host. In that case, talk to the host ahead. Share your concerns. Offer support and suggestions for dealing with the concern. This will probably be a relief to them.
Then, after your planning and preparation, it’s important to let go. There are some dynamics that cannot be controlled. It is not up to you to make sure there is no tension. It’s up to you do the best you can. And let others do the best they can too.