Coping with Grief and Loss During the Holiday Season

iStock_000049199546_XXXLarge

By Renee Jenkins, MSW, Oxford Bereavement Coordinator

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holiday season can be a very difficult time. During the holidays, people tend to become acutely aware of the absence of someone they love. Painful feelings may be intensified and loneliness may become more profound. Following are a few suggestions to help you move forward and make the most of the holiday season.

  1. Accept Your Feelings and Acknowledge Your LossAttempting to bypass feelings requires a lot of energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is your first holiday since the loss, it may be especially important to talk with others and be honest about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid of tears shed amongst family or with a friend; acknowledging what is in your heart provides relief and a sense of closeness. However you feel, accept it.
  2. Be Good to YourselfRemember that your sadness can drain your energy, which puts your health at risk. Shopping at peak times, attending lots of gatherings and otherwise attempting to “make merry” may increase fatigue and loneliness. This year, you might want to scale back—spending a quiet evening at home, listening to music or writing in a journal may be a more nurturing use of your time.
  3. Listen to Your Inner VoiceYour instincts may tell you that it’s a good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that perhaps you should skip the big New Year’s bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.
  4. Blend New Traditions with OldDecide which of your traditions you want to repeat this year. If an absent loved one was responsible for these traditions, decide to whom you might want to delegate these traditions. Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. Sometimes these traditions may feel comforting; if not, establish a new holiday tradition. Do what feels best to you.
  5. Make It Okay to be AloneWhile isolating yourself from others is not recommended, there are many times when solitude can be vital and deeply satisfying. Explore being alone and find out what is most compelling to do during your alone time. Loneliness can be triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is out having a good time, but use this quiet time to remember and think of the special people in your life.
  1. If Children are Part of Your Holidays – Focus on the KidsChildren, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. This is why they are still so excited to celebrate the holiday season. Children may be more interested in traditions and festivities than the adult members of your family this year. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. Children need not be shielded from your times of sadness; their own grief is more understandable to them if they can see that you share the same feelings.

You are always welcome to join Oxford for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at

(417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org

Oxford HealthCare Named Best of the Ozarks by Springfield News-Leader

Oxford HealthCare was recently honored with the Springfield News-Leader’s Best of the Ozarks awards.

For the 13th consecutive year, Oxford HealthCare was recognized as the Best Home Health Care Agency in the Springfield News-Leader’s Best of the Ozarks survey.

Committed to being the leading home care provider in southwest Missouri, Oxford is the only home health care agency to receive the award since the beginning of the survey.

Oxford HealthCare also won Best Hospice Agency for the fifth year in a row. Oxford provides the only full service hospice and palliative care program in the area.

Finding the right care to remain independent at home is an important choice. Thank you to everyone who voted us as Best of the Ozarks, and thank you to the physicians, patients and families that trust Oxford every day for the care they need.

How to Choose the Best, Most Qualified Home Care Agency

Choosing someone to provide help at home is one of the most important decisions you will make. Not only are you choosing a care provider, but you are also choosing someone to come into your home or the home of a loved one. Home care services should help provide support and relief, not add to your worries with unexpected costs or unsatisfactory care.  To help you determine which home care agency is best for you, we’ve listed key guidelines to consider.

Access to Care: Many people don’t always realize there are many home care services available to help you or a loved one improve quality of life and stay safe and independent at home. That’s why it is important to choose a home care agency that knows how to access these services and community resources for you. With these resources in front of you, the home care agency can then help pinpoint which services will be beneficial for you or your loved ones.

Range of Services: Since everyone’s health needs are different, it’s important to find an agency that offers a full range of services. This includes help at home with errands just a couple of days a week, to round-the-clock nursing care. A full-service home care provider can help you transition to various types of care, as they are needed, while tailoring services to meet your individual needs. This way you get the services you need, not just what the company offers.

Experience and Quality: Another factor to consider is the agency’s accountability for quality service. Ask if that agency is certified by the ACHC, or other accrediting organizations that also assure quality for hospitals. Ask about the training and support employees receive before they come into your home. Do the supervisors ever evaluate the employees while they are working at your home? Knowing the agency’s high standard for quality can give you peace-of-mind about the services you are receiving.

Qualified, Dependable Employees: Since caregivers will be coming into your home and working independently, it’s critical they have been thoroughly screened and that extensive background checks have been done. This includes a thorough interview, reference checks, Family Safety Care Registry checks, criminal background checks and drug testing. You will also want to ask if the employees are insured and bonded.

Payment Sources: There are many payment sources available for home care, and it is important to select an agency that understands and accepts all of them for your maximum benefit. Some of the sources include Medicare, Medicaid, Missouri Children’s Waiver, Insurance, Veteran’s Administration, Worker’s Compensation and private pay. Some agencies are also aware of free community resources available.

Home care services should help provide support and relief, not add to your worries with unexpected costs or unsatisfactory care. Hopefully with these guidelines, you have more confidence in choosing the best home care agency for you, or your loved ones. To learn about the home care services offered by Oxford HealthCare, call one of our Care Coordinators today at (417) 883-7500 or (800) 749-6555.

Lifeline Instantly Connects You to the Help You Need

Every year, Mary can hardly wait for winter to dissolve into spring so she can get out of the house and into her flowerbeds. However, this past spring, her annual ritual could have been quite dangerous if Mary had been without the Lifeline Personal Emergency Response System from Oxford HealthCare.

“I started at one end of my beds, but by the time I got to the other end, there was nothing to use to pull myself up. I wasn’t hurt, but I was stuck,” she said.

Mary lives alone. No one would know she was behind her house in need of help. Fortunately, Mary’s daughter prepared her mother in case of such an emergency with Lifeline. With Lifeline, help is right at your fingertips with just the push of a button. Because Mary knew she wasn’t hurt, but just needed a hand, she was able to pick who would respond when she pushed her Lifeline button. Rather than an automatic call to 911, her next- door neighbor was called and responded immediately.

When the Lifeline button is pushed a trained professional answers the call and immediately assesses the situation. If necessary, medical information is shared with the emergency responder so they may provide the most informed and beneficial care when they arrive. A Lifeline professional will also follow up to be certain help arrived.

“As with Mary’s case, not all emergency responses are the same,” said Shallina Bowers, Executive Director of HealthCare Services with Oxford HealthCare. “As the only locally operated program in the area, our clients get personal service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also provide professional installations and extensive distance testing so each individual knows the range Lifeline will cover. Assistance and maintenance are provided at no extra charge and we never require a contract.”

More hospitals, doctors, professional caregivers and families across southwest and central Missouri trust Lifeline as the ideal choice for your personal safety, or the safety of a loved one. To schedule an installation and training, or if you just have questions about Lifeline, call an Oxford Care Coordinator at (417) 883-7500 or (800) 749-6555.