One Final Holiday with Your Loved One:

10 Tips to Make Memories That Will Last Forever

Let the patient take the lead. If your loved one is aware, listen carefully and let them tell you what they want and need. If you start to put up decorations, and they say, “Please don’t”—then just don’t. Or, you may be able to compromise. Also, the patient’s decisions and feelings may change, so be flexible. It may mean that you have to run out on Christmas Eve and buy whatever scrawny tree the farmer has left. This year—more than ever—you just need to go with the flow. Focus on what is truly important—your time together with family and friends.
Simple gifts mean the most. You and others around you may be struggling with the question “What present can I give him/her?” Keep it simple; remember that love is the greatest gift of all. Here’s a great suggestion: Make a list of chores and food items that you need and send it to friends and family before the holidays so that they can give those things as gifts instead of a wrapped present. As for the children, have them make something full of messages of love. After the holidays, save those very special remembrances to give to them when they’re grown.
Keep the carols in Christmas. Unless your patient doesn’t want any caroling, music is a wonderful way to add hope and joy to the season. It has a soothing effect that can be very helpful. Even if the patient is semi-conscious, brain function has been shown to physically change in response to music. It’s powerful—even your heart rate and blood pressure are responsive to music. And, everyone will likely benefit from listening to the familiar carols that have been played through the years.
Be kind to yourself—this year won’t be perfect. So the tree is a little crooked, and the 900 cookies never got made. So what? This year—more than ever—try not to sweat the small stuff. Emotions are important, but let them be about the important feelings. And don’t feel guilty if you find yourself smiling or laughing. When little Lucy smiles at you, your heart will melt. It’s okay.
Take lots and lots of pictures. These are memories that you’ll look back at (over time) and cherish. “Kodak moments” should be a part of every holiday. You can’t relive memories. In fact, load them into a digital photo frame for all to enjoy.
Delegate instead of doing everything yourself. Have a “potluck” supper holiday. The one parameter is this: Make sure that someone with the flu hasn’t prepared the food. Let the kids or grandkids decorate the tree. There will likely be lots of laughter and energy. It’s not asking for help—it’s delegating. (To some people that’s a little easier to do.)
Allow for time away from the hustle and bustle. Put a sign on the door that reads “It’s quiet
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