Caregiving for a loved one is an extremely selfless act. Because of this, grieving caregivers often have an exceptionally difficult time after the loss of a loved one.
Many caregivers find themselves on a daily emotional rollercoaster during their caregiving time, only to feel many different and changing emotions once their loved one has passed away and the need for caregiving is gone.
Family members who have taken care of loved ones may have feelings ranging from grief and loneliness, to guilt and resentment once their loved one has passed. There is a sense that while caring for someone who is sick or elderly, that caregivers are living in an alternate reality with a completely different identity than what they had prior to caregiving. This can make the process of losing a loved one and reclaiming a life without the responsibility of caregiving even harder for those who have dedicated their life and energy to someone else.
If you are a grieving caregiver of a loved one who has passed away, here are some tips to help you move past the process of caregiving and work towards building your own life after loss.
Sleep has its own category because it is one of the most important parts of the rejuvenation process. Take some time to rest. That can mean taking a few days off and staying in bed, watching your favorite TV shows, or simply allowing yourself an afternoon nap when you need it. After caregiving, you may feel as though you have to be alert and available at all times, but it’s important to reassure yourself that your own sleep schedule is now a top priority.
2. Focus on Your Other Needs
In addition to adequate sleep, you will have other needs that may have been neglected for years due to your caregiving schedule. Make sure to allow yourself the time to exercise and work towards rebuilding and maintaining a proper diet. Set aside time to practice mindfulness, meditation, or yoga that can help stretch your body and get your mind back to a healthy place where you are focused on taking care of yourself. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish.
3. Rebuild Finances and Get Back to Work
Many caregivers may have had to quit their jobs or take a leave of absence in order to care for their loved one. This could wreak havoc on your financial security. Now is the time to speak to a financial professional about your own financial situation. Consider reentering the workforce if you had to leave your job. You may even want to try out a new career path and begin training or certifications! If you’ve properly rested, venture out to some networking events in your community, or simply revamp your LinkedIn and start reaching out to contacts about meeting for coffee. You can even leverage your skills learned while caregiving to propel you into a new professional direction.
4. Get the Professional Help You Need
There is no shame in asking for help. You’ve given yourself to someone else for so long, and now you may need mental and emotional support from a mental health professional or support group. Recognize the signs of depression or anxiety, and seek medical professionals who may be able to help you work through the complex emotions that come with grief, and who may also be able to help you get back on track with your own life. Many caregivers seek assistance through bereavement groups, and this is a good avenue to try if you’d like a group support atmosphere with people who are going through a similar experience.
5. Address Interpersonal and Family Issues
During the caregiving process, there may have been friends and family who distanced themselves from you as the caregiver. Many times this is not done with poor intentions, but simply actions taken by those who do not understand the process of caregiving, who are uncomfortable with death, or who simply do not know what to say or do. After the loss of your loved one, it’s important to try and reconnect with family and friends who care about you. Oftentimes, this means putting minor incidents aside and moving forward with compassion and forgiveness.
6. Give Back
Many caregivers may feel a sense of emptiness once their loved one has died. There are ways to help fill the void caused by the end of caregiving such as giving back to your community or a cause through volunteering. Perhaps there was an organization that helped you while you were caregiving, or a cause that was important to you and your loved one. You can honor the memory of your loved one by giving back to those who may have helped you or by providing support to other caregivers.
7. Embrace Your New Life
You may feel like a shadow of your former self if you’ve been a caregiver for a long time. When your duties to your loved one are complete, make an effort to get back to doing all of the things you loved before, and find new hobbies and activities to get you back to a place of happiness. Allow yourself time to play and have fun, and most importantly, laugh!
Another big factor is your living space. If your loved one was living in your house while they needed care, you may also want to consider giving your home a makeover. Take time to pick out new decorations or paint a space to make it more cheerful.
Taking the steps to get back on your feet may not be easy so have patience with yourself as you establish a new routine. There’s no better way to honor your loved one than to be happy and enjoy life!
Caregiving for a family member or loved one can be a monumental task, both emotionally and physically. If you need help with caregiving duties, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We provide in-home care through our network of experienced caregivers, health professionals, and companions who will help alleviate your needs with regards to caring for your loved one. Contact us today to learn more about our individualized caregiving services.
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