If your loved one is expected to leave the hospital soon, you could also postpone holiday activities until after they are discharged.
Be there for each other
While it’s important to support the person who is ill, it’s also important for the family to support each other. Armstrong says she and her family took walks together outside of the hospital every day while her mother was hospitalized, and everyone took turns staying with her so the other family members could eat and sleep.
Arranging visits from family and friends for the person who is hospitalized can also be a great way to recapture some seasonal joy and focus on one of the main things that make the holidays special: being with people you care about. Armstrong's mother received visits from loved ones who lived both near and far. "I was surprised by how much energy the visits seemed to give her," Armstrong says.
Get kids involved
For children in the family, seeing their loved one in the hospital can be hard because they may not fully understand what that means, or why the holiday traditions they’re used to suddenly aren’t happening. Curtis recommends having an honest conversation with kids about what is going on and to prepare them for what they might see at the hospital, while still recognizing what each child is capable of handling.
Letting them visit the hospital can then be beneficial for everyone, Ng says, as can letting them get involved in holiday activities so they can express themselves. If you’re decorating the hospital room, let them help, or help them pick out a present for your relative that’s appropriate for the hospital—like a pair of cozy slippers or a soft blanket.
Know your resources
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Both Curtis and Ng emphasize that reaching out to hospital providers and staff, be they nurses, social workers, spiritual care workers or palliative care team members, is helpful, even if you’re only looking for emotional support.