The holiday season is meant to be a time for friends and family to celebrate joy and togetherness. For some, especially those experiencing their first holiday season without a family member, the holidays are a reminder of loss and are a time to grieve.
Employee caregivers may be feeling stressed this holiday season, so it’s important to gain an understanding of how they might be struggling and to provide support during the holidays, especially if someone is dealing with grief.
Julie Devine, Cariloop’s Chief Growth Officer, had an exceptional grandfather. His talents in music, the arts and anything creative kept her family close-knit, especially during the holidays. Every Christmas Eve, her grandparents would turn their living room into a performance hall, filling the house with music and joy and encouraging every family member to join in the fun.
She and her family are missing him this holiday season; he passed away in August, so they’re navigating their first Christmas without him.
Families who are also experiencing their first holiday season without a loved one know how hard it can be to go through this busy season without someone you love by your side. They can withdraw from work and social events, keep busy to not face their grief or skip out on holiday activities as they begin to feel the burden of grief and holiday responsibilities at once. Look out for the caregivers in your workplace and try to:
Have grace for caregivers as the year wraps up. They have a lot on their plate, and experiencing grief on top of the normal hustle and bustle of the December holidays can sometimes be overwhelming.
Encourage conversations where caregivers can recognize their feelings. Create an environment that seeks to understand that it’s okay to be crying one moment and laughing the next. There’s no such thing as a ‘prohibited’ emotion during a time of grieving, regardless of time or season.
As Julie mourned the loss of her grandfather, she watched her grandmother who had been with her husband for over half a century navigate life without him for the first time.
“We saw a little bit of the caregiving burden being lifted from her, just a glimpse of release,” Julie says. “She mourned him deeply but was also very curious what the rest of her life might look like.”
They had worried for her, but she was able to live independently while keeping her husband in her memory. For the holiday season, she is continuing the family tradition of singing and playing instruments together on Christmas Eve, something that was brought to life by her husband and kept alive by the rest of the family.
“My extended family will fill their house with music this Christmas Eve,” Julie says, “and from far away, I’m making sure to take the time to sing. It’s the best way to honor him–nothing made him happier.”
Talking with your employee base about family traditions can be a way for families to remember loved ones they have lost as they gather this holiday season. Families can also create new traditions to celebrate and stay positive during the harder days, like:
- Visiting a loved one’s gravesite
- Hanging a special ornament on the tree
- Doing a passed loved one’s favorite holiday activity
While grieving, sometimes the simplest tasks can feel like an unscalable mountain on bad days, and the holidays can fast-track caregiver burnout. Feeling this way can be an isolating experience, so don’t hesitate to offer help to a caregiver you know, whether it be sending them a gift, helping with meal preparations or lending an ear to listen.
Navigating grief during the holidays can get overwhelming fast, and caregivers deserve compassionate support while adjusting to the holiday season without a loved one. With Cariloop, you can:
- Identify ways to set boundaries with holiday events
- Locate volunteer or charitable opportunities
- Find grief counselors and support groups
- Budget ideas for the holidays