Spending the Holiday Season in the Hospital

By: Emily Walsh

The blank white walls of a hospital aren’t exactly the winter wonderland scenes people want to see during the holiday season. Whether you’re a patient, caregiver, or visitor, there are plenty of ways to make the celebration a little jollier.

December is a hectic month for anyone, especially for those taking care of a loved one with cancer or another major illness. Don’t be afraid to accept help when it’s offered. Friends and family want to help. Don’t dismiss the next time a neighbor asks if they can shovel your driveway. If a family friend wants to bring over dinner, that’s one less item you need to take care of. It’s important to try and maintain a balance between work, home, and your caregiving duties. It’s okay to enlist a loved one to help out so you can try to get some personal space.

Visitors may find it a bit more difficult this time of year to stop by with something in hand. Finding the appropriate gift for a loved one in the hospital can be very difficult. Heather Von St. James, an 11-year survivor of mesothelioma cancer, shares a few guidelines to keep in mind when gifting to a cancer patient. To learn more head over to her blog series here.

Distract them from their illness. Get their mind off the reason why they’re in the hospital. Example gifts include a music service subscription, crafts, and audiobooks.

Stray away from food gift baskets. It’s hard to judge what the patient may or may not find appetizing during their treatment, plus there are certain foods that need to be avoided while on chemotherapy. Instead, find out what they need to be more comfortable whether it’s fuzzy slippers or body cream.

Donate to a special cause or cancer research fund in their name. They’ll most likely receive a thank you letter from the organization!

Enjoy the little things this holiday season! If you’re a caretaker, take some time to appreciate all of the thoughtful gestures and accept help when you need it. If you are visiting a friend or family member, just remember the number one gift you can give is your presence. Live in the moment and enjoy the company of close friends and loving family. This time of year isn’t about where you are, but who you’re with.

Editor’s Note: We welcome comments, but ask that they remain civil and on-topic. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments.

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