The Campbell River Hospice Society held its lighted Garden Vigil in December 2019. The vigil is held so members of the community can take a moment during the busy holiday season to honour those in their lives who have passed. Here, people have put names of loved ones on on the outside of bags with candles in them and sat for a few moments’ reflection. File photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror

The Campbell River Hospice Society held its lighted Garden Vigil in December 2019. The vigil is held so members of the community can take a moment during the busy holiday season to honour those in their lives who have passed. Here, people have put names of loved ones on on the outside of bags with candles in them and sat for a few moments’ reflection. File photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror

Experiencing loss through the pandemic and holiday season

The COVID-19 pandemic changes the way we will be celebrating the holidays this year.

It will be difficult for everyone, but the challenges become even more significant for those facing the end of their life or grieving. Unfortunately, the grief and loss journey continues despite the pandemic and the holidays, so we have found some ways that we hope will make it just a little bit easier.

Some grieving people may welcome the isolation associated with the pandemic restrictions, finding it comforting to be able to grieve in private. However, other people may need to have intimacy and physical support from their loved ones. Hugging, holding hands or even being near someone can be very important to their well-being, making isolation during the holiday season exceptionally difficult. To help ensure you have the comfort you need, we suggest choosing those in your safe bubble carefully. Be sure those allowed in are good for your mental well-being and not someone who may be a bit more challenging to be around at this time. It’s okay to make these decisions because right now, it’s about taking care of yourself.

We find that many people who recently lost a loved one still want to continue their holiday traditions but struggle because of their lack of energy or interest. To help, why not try starting small by putting up a small tree or choosing one outside to decorate. This tree can become a unique memory tree that you can hang special items that had significant meaning to your loved one. If you don’t want to have a tree, it could also be smaller, like a special decoration or ornament that your loved one enjoyed. Keeping it simple will honour your holiday tradition without becoming too overwhelming.

Another way to help you during the grief process is to create a memory box. This special box should have a lid and be a manageable size that you can move around your home. You can decorate the box if you choose. Some people like to decorate it for the season, where others choose to keep it simple. You will want to place some meaningful items in the box, such as letters, cards, photos or anything that holds a special memory. Schedule a designated time each day to spend time with your box and to grieve, then put it away for tomorrow. Scheduling a time to grieve makes your day a bit easier and helps you manage your grief. As you do this, remember, there is no timeline for your grief. We all grieve differently and it’s important to follow what feels right for you.

If you are someone who is facing the end-of-life, consider using this time to talk to your loved ones candidly. Don’t try to protect them from your passing pain. Instead, use this time to talk openly with each other. It’s hard to have an intimate conversation over the phone or facetime, so it’s important to break through the barriers and express your feelings. If it’s too difficult to express yourself this way, ask another family member or hospice volunteer to help you write a letter or make a video to leave behind. The video can be made by joining in a zoom or other facetime applications to record your message. Another option is a new app called ‘Record Now’ that will prompt you through different steps to help you leave your memory behind. Don’t be scared to ask your caregiver or nurse to help you with the technology – ask for help. Leaving a message will be a beautiful family heirloom that you can share with many generations to come, or request that the message stays between you and the designated person you want to have it.

For those who have a loved one who will be passing away, it can be very difficult, especially during this time of so many safety restrictions. Be sure to ask for the facilities to help connect with your loved ones if you can’t be with them physically. Use the gift of technology to your advantage, and if you don’t know how you can find some easy to learn videos on youtube. If that is too difficult, please ask someone to help. When you get the opportunity to talk, get right to the point and by asking if you can have an intimate and open conversation. They most likely want to speak openly but often won’t out of wanting to protect you. Tell them you don’t want to leave anything unsaid between you and that you want to use this time to really connect. Take some time to prepare some questions that you want to ask. You might even ask to record the conversation. Opening a dialogue for someone to express any final feelings is a beautiful gift you can give them at the end of their life.

All you can do is your best during this difficult time. Don’t be hard on yourself. Whatever you decide to do is okay. The best way to honour your loved one is to take care of yourself with love and kindness while caring for your entire self, your heart, mind and body.

Written in collaboration by Leslie Haynes-Hodgins MSW, RSW, CRHS Lead Clinical Counsellor and Louise Daviduck, CRHS Executive Director

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Strathcona Gardens is one of many recreation opportunities that could be investigated during a feasibility study. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Strathcona rural and municipal directors disagree on recreation study

Rural directors say study would not affect them, don’t want to pay for it

Red dresses hang on the Longhouse at Campbell River’s Robert Ostler Park on May 5, which is designated as Red Dress Day to commemorate murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. A gathering at the Longhouse was held to mark the day and the MMWIG. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Campbell River gathering commemorates murdered and missing women and girls

Red Dress Day marked by ceremony at Robert Ostler Park

City of Campbell River crews work to repair a four-inch water main near Carihi Secondary School. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Main break leaves Campbell River neighbourhood without water

Students sent home early from Carihi Secondary, businesses closed

The arena at Strathcona Gardens could be in the running for the 2022 Kraft Hockeyville competition. File photo – Campbell River Mirror
Strathcona Gardens eyes 2022 Kraft Hockeyville competition

Winner gets to host a pre-season NHL game and $250,000 to help fix their arena

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police photo of suspected cat thief was just a woman with her own cat

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read