Christmas, dying, death, palliative, spiritual

You have a loved one for whom you know this will probably be their last Christmas in our physical world.

You fluctuate between wanting to make it extra special and dreading it at the same time.

Everyone knows that it will probably be the last one, but it’s not something that is said out loud.

How do you make it something special? 

How do you respectfully acknowledge the reality of the situation without thrusting it into people’s face? 

How do you create precious memories?

First and foremost with all of my work in this space, it is driven by the person on their end journey. 

There are quite a number of questions that can be asked to help guide what does/doesn’t happen:

  • What do/don’t they want to do?
  • What are they physically capable of doing?
  • Do celebrations need to be held earlier in the month so that they are not as physically taxing?
  • Do celebrations need to be broken into a number of smaller events?
  • If it’s appropriate for the situation, does the fact that it may be their last Christmas get publicly acknowledged?  Would it be helpful to address the elephant in the room?

Make sure there is fun and laughter!!  You don’t want this to be a time of doom and gloom.  Yes, it is a sad time, but it is also a time for creating joy and precious memories.  Buy the Christmas bon bons, wear the hats that never fit, read the silly jokes and groan at the answers.

If you have young children in your circle, have them involved and just being kids as much as possible.  Kids have a way of ‘normalising’ situations and keeping things real and down to earth.

If the person dying is agreeable, take lots and lots of pics and videos of the celebrations.  These may be heartbreaking to watch, but they become even more precious when they have gone.

Gifts can be a challenge at this time too…what do you get for someone who is dying?  My Mum died less than a month after Mother’s Day and she was given a beautiful, warm pashmina that she proudly wore until she took her last breath.  Experiences can also be a great gift – obviously taking into account physical limitation and individual circumstances.

And lastly, give yourself permission to feel the experience in totality.  If you feel raw emotions coming to the surface & you need to cry, allow yourself that.  If need be, give yourself a few moments to let the tears fall, privately if you have to, knowing that this is all part of the journey.  Just as you allow yourself to laugh if it’s there, allow the authenticity of the experience.  These emotions are all part of our human experience and it’s when we deny our emotions that we end up with problems.

The fact that someone is dying doesn’t need to be the sole focus of all that happens, but it can be used to gently guide the situation.  The poignancy of having awareness is a powerful aspect of this journey – utilise it to your advantage and make the most of this time.

Peace & blessings to you all.