The Holiday Season is meant to be filled with family and joy. It can also be a time of great stress, especially for families with chronically ill loved ones. In today’s post, Becky Hunt shares her experience with losing a child to CHD as well as managing her own illness, and explains how to de-stress from it all around the holidays.
Ah, December! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time for enjoying the festivities of the season! Exciting, right?! Well, for many of us, the next few weeks bring along added stress that can dampen our spirits and make the season a little less bright. Making travel plans, buying gifts, driving the kids to this party and that program, it’s non stop! Most “wonderful” time? Talk about most STRESSFUL time of the year!
Christmas was always my most favorite time of year! That was until my world came crashing down on me many times over.
My story starts with a little girl named Gracie. My baby girl. Gracie was born August 2nd, 2012 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, or “half a heart”. She lit up my life for 82 days. The girl who changed MY heart inspired me to start a non-profit organization that creates dream cakes for kids with Congenital Heart Defects to brighten their lives. 5 years later that non-profit, Cakes From Grace, is thriving and growing and reaching more and more heart families by the day.
3 years after we lost Gracie I heard the 3 words that no one ever wants to hear, “YOU HAVE CANCER”.
Me? Haven’t I been through enough? Why me? Why now? I have CAKES to bake!
But the truth is, Cancer seemed to be nothing compared to losing your child or even seeing THEM suffer the way she did in the hospital for 82 days.
But I am here 2 years later, gone through several surgeries, 2 years of treatment and no Cancer in sight.
After Gracie passed away I dove right back into work. Started 5 different businesses (like one wasn’t enough). And just buried myself in it. At first work was my place to hide, to escape, it was a distraction, a place I could numb the feelings and avoid the hurt.
My obsession with work grew and soon it turned into an obsession with stress. I couldn’t escape. I felt like if I stopped then the world would crumble beneath me. Like I was letting people down. Constantly giving of myself, my services, my time, never saying no.
Christmas was always my most favorite time of the year. That was until we lost Gracie. I found myself angry that there wasn’t a spot at the table for her. No gifts under the tree for her. She wasn’t there to decorate the tree with me or sing our favorite Christmas songs I always sang to her.
The Holidays for me started to turn into a chore. The lists, the gifts I needed to find. My loved ones started to become a checklist. Ok, that person is done, 3 more to go, and 1 week to get it done before Christmas!
The endless amount of things on the Calendar. Christmas concerts, parties we were invited to, family get-togethers, gift shopping, UGH and the standing in lines! When am I gonna have the time to put up a Christmas tree?! 23 days of December just are NOT enough to fit it all in!
Everything constant, work, grief, the to-do lists all piling up!
Then how in the world DO you fit it all in? How in the world can you DE-stress?
1. Master The Art of Saying “No”
You don’t HAVE to attend every party you are invited to. Make a list of all the parties you and your kids were invited to, have them pick 1 or 2 of them to attend, not all of them.
2. Skip The Lines
You don’t have to go out and stand in those lines waiting to purchase the ONE thing you came here for! Shop online if that stresses you out! Put up your feet and cuddle up at home! Let the USPS guy bring it to you!
3.Take Time for You
Instead of giving your spouse a list of things you would like for Christmas, as a gift, ask him to take the kids out for a few hours while you read a book or watch a Christmas Movie and drink a glass of wine in a QUIET house. Ah, doesn’t THAT sound nice?!
4. Write a priority list, NOT a to-do list!
Instead of freaking out over the things you need to get done, try to organize your list in order from what the top priority/needs to be done right NOW to what can wait for a bit.
5. Put the work DOWN
For some of us we can make our own hours, like myself. For others, you don’t have that luxury. But if you DO have the option, carve out at least 1 hour during your day to do something for you. Something that makes you happy. You’ll go back to work feeling refreshed.
6. Acknowledge Your Feelings
The holidays can bring up a whole bunch of emotions from sadness & loss to anger & frustration. It is OKAY. Just because it’s the ‘happiest time of the year’, does not exclude you from feeling those emotions. Forcing that “happy” on yourself can weigh you down even more.
What I’ve learned is you can’t take care of your house, your kids, your to-dos if you don’t take care of YOU first.
Life is so darn short, kids grow fast and days grow faster.
I challenge you this season. Take more time for you and your loved ones. Maybe this is the year you start new traditions of making home made gifts and cookies and treats instead of spending the time to shop, spending that time away from laughter and joy. Or in my case, just BAKE cake!
Laugh more, live more this season. I DARE you!
I consider myself a lifestyle blogger with a focus on all the things I love and am most passionate about!
I’ve gone, done and experienced a lot in my adult life and I have a passion for sharing and serving. From losing my first daughter, Gracia, to a Congenital Heart Defect at just 82 days old, going through Cancer treatments and surgeries over the past 3 years to running 5 separate businesses as well as a non-profit organization just within the last 5 years.
And now closing a toxic chapter in my life and choosing to start over. Starting fresh and following my BIG SCARY dreams of becoming an author, writing a blog, being a life coach, videographer, continuing to grow my non-profit and putting myself out there in hope that I may inspire and help someone going through their own struggles, triumphs and hurts.
I’m a work-aholic and a stress-aholic on the recovery train to freedom! My mission is to be the best me I can be and to help other women find out what that means for them too.
Learn more about Becky: https://www.beckyhunt.me/