As a caregiver, you find yourself learning and doing things you never dreamed of. If you are the primary caregiver, you learn nursing and personal care skills you never thought you would be providing. For some, this brings people closer, you are sharing the most intimate part of their life. For others, they find this to be very difficult and seek out some homecare services to assist with these areas.
Life as a caregiver changes everything you know up to now. You adjust your personal life, often friendships take the back burner, so you can completely focus on the needs of your care receiver. Some of the most important things in your personal life will be put on hold.
As life goes on, you see the decline in your care receiver and you begin to grieve. If this is your spouse, you grieve what was and what will never be. All the dreams of time spent together in retirement, traveling, time with grandchildren, growing old together. If it is a parent, you grieve because you are now needing to ‘be the parent’ in many ways.
And then the care receiver passes away and a whole new set of feelings and grieving begins. All that you have adjusted your life to, to accommodate your caregiving role, is now changing again.
There can be so many mixed feelings and emotions at this time. If the care receiver had a lengthy illness such as dementia, you almost feel like “you will be fine” because you have been grieving for so long. Caregivers are often surprised that they still have grief to work through. Along with that, there can be feelings of guilt, loneliness, anxiety, depression and more.
Over the next few months my articles will talk about symptoms of grief, types of grief and how can we help others who are grieving. I will help to determine what is normal grieving and when a person may need to seek professional help.
My main message to each person grieving a loss is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. We are all individually made and will react differently. Be gentle, patient and kind to yourself, and take one day at a time.