I know, dear reader, you are a caregiver, either as a mother, family member, or professional. You hurt when others hurt. You are wired to help; you want to be there for those you love. You strive to keep normal holiday activity going at home as well.
Here are a few tips I trust you’ll find helpful as you face difficult situations through this season. Let me hear from you with pointers you may have.
1. Do not feel you have to bring a dish of food each time you visit. If they are involved in an active church or have a large family nearby, there is probably an abundance of prepared foods already. If you want to bring something, consider the list at the end of this article for some helpful ideas. I speak from experience, these items are appreciated and often much needed. Not only are you bringing useful gifts, you are helping in ways you cannot imagine.
2. Ask about their needs beyond tangible items. Is there something you can do to help prepare for holiday activities? Decorating? Shopping? Addressing cards? Run errands? Clean house or yard?
3. Be sensitive to their time needs when calling or sending e-mails. Keep conversations relatively short and to the point. Spend more time listening than talking and hang up soon. Do not send unnecessary e-mails and messages that give them more to deal with.
4. Allow them to discuss their loss if they want. Some will need to talk about their loss more than others. When ready, they may need to spend extra time reminiscing, crying, and sharing. Be a good listener but learn when to give a hug and move on. Trust the Lord to give you wisdom.
Here are very practical items you can bring instead of food dishes.
1. Paper products such as paper towels, toilet paper and napkins. A thoughtful gift is small packages of Kleenex that can be put in each room or carried in pockets. I recall times when I would have given a mint for a simple tissue to dry my tears and blow my nose!
2. Paper bowls and plates and silverware are always welcome. Also, if there is to be lots of food brought in, think about bringing a few storage bowls with lids of various sizes for leftovers or to send food home with someone.
3. Consider coffee, creamer, sugar, hot chocolate and other drink mixes. Perhaps a few packages of cookies nice for them to have on hand as well. Be sure to provide paper cups for both hot and cold drinks.
4. Whether the family is larger or small, think about a few items to have on hand when they are not up to cooking. Sandwich things like peanut butter and jelly or packaged tuna or cheese and crackers are good. A few apples, oranges and grapes are welcome choices. Consider a jar of peanuts or mixed nuts.
The list is endless as you consider the needs of a household. As always, the best gift you can give is yourself; a sincere hug and prayer goes a long way in the healing process. Just knowing you are there for someone lifts their spirits and gives strength to continue on.
Praying for each of you a blessed and safe holiday season as you care for others along your path.
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