February 13, 2014

Coping with Grief and Guilt as a Caregiver

Taking over the caregiving duties of your aging spouse can be overwhelming. You may be experiencing many emotions as the reality of what is to come next settles in. It is perfectly normal to feel guilt, grief or even anger and resentment. These emotions are understandable and should not be ignored.

It may seem odd to feel grief while your loved one is still alive. Grieving the unpredictable future is a normal feeling. It is not easy to see a loved one decline in health, but know that you are not alone.

Experiencing guilt for not being able to accomplish everything each day, or feeling as if you are unable to do an adequate job is a normal emotion. It is OK to take time for yourself, but do not feel guilty for it. You need to be at your emotional and physical best in order to take care of your loved one. Take a yoga class, go for a walk or treat yourself to a massage. Rather than feeling guilty for focusing on yourself, remember that this is another way to give your loved one the best care as well.

Experiencing anger or resentment toward your loved one or others is a normal response to accepting caregiving responsibilities. It can seem overwhelming at first, and a natural reaction is to feel angry for having to take on the role as primary caregiver for a loved one. You may also feel anger that your loved one has a life-limiting illness. To help cope with these emotions, talk to a friend or relative who understands what you are going through.

This is not the time to be alone. There is strength in numbers, so talk with others, ask for help and seek out help when needed.