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Facing the Holidays with a Heavy Heart: Four Ways to Show You Care During a Darker Christmas Season

The holidays are meant to be filled with light, laughter, and good cheer. But when a friend or loved one is seriously or terminally ill, those things might seem to be in short supply. Joni Aldrich offers advice on how you can prepare to face this season with purpose and compassion.

Winston-Salem, NC (PRWEB) December 18, 2009 -- Take a look at any storefront window or television special: the holidays are meant to be a joyous occasion filled with frivolity and good cheer. But how do you face this festive month when someone you love is seriously or terminally ill? It’s a question that many are facing this holiday season.
“When someone you love is facing illness, there are bigger concerns than how to decorate your tree,” says Joni Aldrich, author of The Saving of Gordon: Lifelines to W-I-N Against Cancer (Cancer Lifeline Publications, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4392550-3-2, $19.95). “But if you think about the true reasons for the season, you’ll realize the holidays can also hold invaluable gifts.”
Aldrich speaks from experience. In 2006, her husband Gordon lost his two-year battle with cancer. Her book tells the story of the Aldrich family’s experiences while simultaneously offering valuable step-by-step advice that will give readers the tools they need to have a fighting chance against cancer. As the season approaches, you or someone you know may be going through a dark holiday. Read on for helpful guidelines for visiting an ill patient this month:

Don’t wait for the “right time”. There will never be a “convenient” time to visit a someone who is battling a serious illness. Even good days are filled with difficulties and discomfort. Ultimately, though, you will both be thankful that you spent time together.

“When you visit, consider the needs of the patient and his family. Call in advance, consider the well-being of the patient, and err on the side of caution when choosing to visit. If you are under the weather yourself consider a phone conversation instead or wear a mask.”

Visit the patient and the caregivers. Remember, the patient is not the only one whose daily life has been affected by his illness. The routines and priorities of family and caregivers have changed drastically as well. Follow their leads when interacting with the patient, and make sure to focus on them as well.

“Whatever you do, don’t avoid the family because you are uncertain of how to approach them in a difficult situation,” urges Aldrich. “Call often, bring food, and offer prayers. These ‘gifts’ will be appreciated by the patient and her family.”

Avoid preconceived expectations. Imagine this: you’ve scheduled a visit with an ill friend, and you have grand plans for watching a favorite holiday movie, but it turns out that your friend more urgently wants to talk about her memories, fears, and uncertainties. You’re thrown completely for a loop and don’t know how to respond.

“Always gauge the patient’s mood as acutely as you can,” Aldrich says. “It’s helpful if she is forthcoming about what would give her the most comfort, but she may not be able to express her feelings and needs that easily. Make the visit about the patient, whether that means that you end up laughing, crying, or reminiscing.”

Remember that the best gifts can’t be wrapped. Your care and support will mean more to an ill friend than any amount of material presents, and when it does come time to break out the gifts, think about what might be truly needed. Blankets, a baby monitor, a heating pad and warm socks will be greatly appreciated.

“Don’t forget that a hug or a sympathetic ear is one of the most powerful gifts that can be exchanged,” says Aldrich. “Offer to make a grocery store run or to help hang holiday decorations. Prayer is the most blessed gift of all—pray together, pray separately, and pray often.”

“Ultimately, you will be blessed because of the comfort and love you have given to a family who needs it,” promises Aldrich. “You will have experienced the true meaning of Christmas—giving a gift to others that is much more valuable than anything you could ever wrap in a box.”

About the Author:
Joni James Aldrich believes that she has been preparing to write The Saving of Gordon for most of her life. In her professional career, she has worked in analysis, documentation, communications, and public speaking. However, her real motivation for writing this book was two years of crisis in the cancer school of hard knocks. She feels it is her destiny to relay this story to readers in a way that will help them in their own cancer journeys.

Joni is also the author of The Cancer Patient W-I-N Book: Our Cancer Fight Journal and of the upcoming book The Losing of Gordon: A Beacon Through the Storm Called “Grief.”

For more information, please visit

About the Book:
The Saving of Gordon: Lifelines to W-I-N Against Cancer (Cancer Lifeline Publications, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4392550-3-2, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.


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Source: PRWeb
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