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Saying Goodbye to Caregiving

By Jenifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)

Everything comes to an end, good and bad. When living the daily grind as a caregiver, there are both moments. When the season of caregiving ends, many caregivers are found searching for something to fill their time and their hearts.

Whether a full- or part-time caregiver, there is a sense of loss when a loved one passes. For a lot of caregivers, it is a double loss, of a person and a purpose.

The “mental work”

The most pressing thing on a caregiver’s mind at the end of caregiving is the overwhelming feeling of “Now what?”

There’s a lot of “business” to take care of, which will be discussed later, but first it’s important that caregivers give themselves the time and space they need to grieve and process the new phase of life they are entering.

One of the ways to do that is by reconnecting with family and friends whose relationships may have been in limbo during the caregiving period. Many times, this is accomplished naturally through funeral services, family coming into town to help, etc. Experts say that participating in these rituals is beneficial and a way to have a sense of peace and closure at this time of a caregiver’s life, whether they are 90 or 19.

A caregiver actually may feel a sense of relief and the ability to “breathe” again, especially if it was a drawn-out caregiving role which has ended. Eventually, those feelings will lead to growth and a new independence; but at first, they may leave a person feeling empty and guilty. This is normal and will change as time passes.

It’s important a caregiver find new meaning or connections with things they once enjoyed, such as hobbies, sports or other recreational activities.

They also should set realistic goals. Many caregivers try to conform to society’s expectations that after a few months, life will return to “normal.”  For a person who was an active caregiver, their normal was not the same as others. Small steps will help carry a caregiver through the grieving process and also give way to a set of new priorities and enjoyments.

 

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