Holidays are traditionally viewed as a time to celebrate. Many people enjoy reuniting with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and celebrating religious traditions during this time. However, sometimes people with cancer and their loved ones feel “out of step” from the rest of the world during the holidays. In fact, the holiday season can prompt new questions, such as: How do I take care of the holiday rush and myself at the same time? How can I celebrate when I have so many other things on my mind? What will my life be like next year? Sharing these concerns with the people you love and who love you can help you feel more connected.
The holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's can be a stressful time for anyone, especially for those suffering from a serious illness such as cancer.
Avoid isolation. Plan to get together with friends, family, or co-workers over the holidays. Trying to celebrate alone can be very difficult, so accept invitations from others, invite people over, or join an organized group activity through your local YMCA, YWCA, your church, or synagogue.
Ask for help in the kitchen. If you are expected to host the holiday meal, but don't think you can handle the responsibility, give yourself break. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with your traditional duties. People will understand if you ask them to bring a dish for the meal, have someone else host the meal, or suggest eating out at a restaurant. Remember that your guests are looking forward to spend time with you. Picking up a spoon and helping in the kitchen allows your guests to do just that.
It’s not about the gifts. Are you too tired for tasks such as shopping for gifts and cards, or standing in line at the post office to mail packages? If so, enlist the help of a friend or family member or use mail order catalogues this year. There are also easier ways to let others know that you are thinking about them by writing a short note or making a phone call. You can always send them a card or gift later.
Don’t force yourself. You may feel that you are pushed into celebrating by well-meaning friends and relatives. You cannot fake a cheerful mood. If you feel low emotionally or physically, you may want to postpone a family gathering, an outing with friends, or an office party. Give yourself permission not to join the festivities this year. There will be other opportunities to socialize.
If you feel sad about the year gone by, it's OK to express those feelings. Tears can bring a sense of relief. It is common to experience a mixture of anticipation, disappointment, and apprehension about the future. Try not to suppress your feelings. Instead, talk them over with a loved one, a friend, or a professional counselor.