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Caregiver Grief Comes Down to One Emotion


Lifestyle Improvement

Posted On: Jan 26, 2017

Caregiver Grief Comes Down to One Emotion

It's not at all uncommon for caregivers to feel intense guilt after their loved ones finally succumb. Even if you are not the primary caregiver, the emotions you feel after it's over frequently resolve into guilt. In some cases, that guilt is the result of a single emotion: relief. Experiencing relief after someone you love passes makes you feel like a terrible, ungrateful person. You don't dare talk about it. You can't bring yourself to tell a soul. Because you bury it instead of expressing it, the guilt festers inside of you. Because you felt relief, now you can't get any. Don't do that to yourself. You are not alone. You are not the only person in the world to ever feel this way, and it does not make you a horrible person.

Feelings of Relief Are Normal

In fact, relief is an expected emotion after the death of someone for whom you've been caring. Please repeat that to yourself: relief is normal. Long illnesses or declines are difficult for everyone involved, not just for the afflicted person. You're watching someone you love die, in the first place. Furthermore, end-of-life patients are not easy to deal with by any means. That's not speaking ill of the dying, it's a simple fact, and they genuinely don't mean it. The point is that there are numerous reasons to experience relief after such a painful ordeal.

You Earn Your Relief

Death is an ordeal, especially when it involves a long illness. You're responsible for your loved one in so many ways, your life is essentially on hold, and it's exhausting. It hurts deeply to see someone you love in pain or declining. Tension is now a permanent part of your life. You feel resentful, which makes you feel even worse. You're on a merry-go-round of emotions, with grief outweighing everything. You carry on without complaint because this is a person you care about with all of your heart.

Relief Is Not Happiness

You're by no means glad that your loved one died. You know that. No one else things that, not at all. That's not what relief is. You're not dancing a jig, planning a party, or in any way celebrating. An extraordinarily hard part of your life is over. You stood by your loved one until the very end, and now it's finished. Now you have a chance to grieve.

You're Relieved for Your Loved One

Your loved one's pain has finally ended. She or she is no longer suffering. That alone validates your relief. No one wants to see anyone else in pain, let alone someone they love. You are just as relieved about that, and that's exactly how you should feel. Even in your sadness, say a word of thanks that someone so important to you is at peace.

As a caregiver tending to a loved one, you will feel many things after she or he passes. Trust that the guilt will not last forever. Once it goes, you can move through the grieving process at your own pace and ultimately find closure.