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When Taking Care of Your Loved One Was Your Entire Life


Lifestyle Improvement

Posted On: Mar 07, 2017

When Taking Care of Your Loved One Was Your Entire Life

Taking care of someone you love during their final months, weeks, and days is a touching, selfless sacrifice. You are a wonderful person for doing so. People become caretakers for their loved ones every day, and they come to that decision for any number of reasons. It's not a choice to make likely because it is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever do. The day-to-day intricacies of caring for someone are incredibly involved. You're not just administering medication, helping with treatments, changing the sheets, or bathing the patient. You're not just a caretaker. You're a healer, a nurse, a therapist, and a confessor, as well. But what happens once the end finally comes? How do you go on when taking care of your loved one was your entire life?

The Relief Is Natural

Many caregivers experience extreme guilt after the death of the loved one for whom they cared. They feel guilty because the death brings relief, and we're conditioned to believe that if we feel anything but abject sadness following a loss, we are bad people. That's so far from the truth. Grief has no boundaries or set definition. Everyone feels it in their own way. Just because you are relieved that the ordeal is over, that doesn't mean you aren't grieving. It certainly doesn't mean you're a bad person. It's okay to be relieved that your loved one is no longer suffering, and it's okay to be relieved that you no longer have to watch someone you love fade and deteriorate.

Your Real Life Feels Purposeless

Your loved one was your entire life at the end. Even if you only took care of her or him for a month or two, you were likely together constantly—if not 24/7, then close. Caring for someone else takes over your life, especially if you're caring for someone with a terminal illness. Once you're ready to re-enter your old life, it's not uncommon to feel untethered and at loose ends. Everything about your past life feels odd, even foreign. That's natural. You aren't the same person you were several months ago. You've been through a devastation.

Grief May Be Delayed

You're not wrong or broken if you don't experience a traditional bereavement. Even though you expected your loved one's death, it can still come as a shock. Added to the fact that you're now returning to a world that no longer feels familiar even as you deal with the details of death, you don't always have the time, energy, or presence of mind to examine your emotions or feel your feelings. As such, don't be surprised if your grief hits you months after the fact.

Caregivers deal with a different type of fallout following a death. For so long, you have to compartmentalize your emotions and your natural sadness. You shove it back so you can take better care of the person you love. Once the floodgates finally open, they're intense.