When her mother died, Carol Bradley Bursack’s 15-year job as her caregiver came to an end. We often take on the job of caregiving gradually, picking up a few groceries, scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Over time the role consumes more and more of our lives without our realizing it.
Many of us start our caregiving career by assisting an elder in his or her home, or we have a spouse who declines and we become the default caregiver in our own home. This care expands to a point where we need some type of respite, often in the form of in-home care agency help. Eventually, the move to assisted living or even a nursing home may become necessary for everyone's health and wellbeing. Whatever happens, we remain caregivers. Many of us continue to see our care receiver daily. Most of us continue to be involved as advocates and support throughout the time of need. When our loving attention and care is no longer needed, we can, indeed, feel lost.
Carol suggests that to move on to the next stage of our lives, we need a change in attitude and a new sense of direction.
Drop any guilt about things that you feel you could have done differently. You did your best, even though you probably weren't perfect each day because we are all imperfect caregivers. Compare notes with other caregivers and you will likely understand that you did just fine. If you have certain incidences nagging at you that you can't let go of, write your deceased care receiver a letter of apology. Then, consider the apology accepted and tear up the letter. You have been forgiven by them, now forgive yourself.
Above all, Carol reminds us that taking care of ourselves is the most important aspect of moving forward with our lives.
“Rebuilding Your Life after the Death of Your Care Receiver” is reprinted with permission from AgingCare.com. Read the full article.