Life After Caregiving

There are two prevalent aspects to caregiving that everyone experiences. There’s a beginning and an end; in most cases, we are unprepared for either of these life-changing events.

Then that day comes, and caregiving ends.

Even if you’ve had those honest conversations with your care partner (and I hope you do) and know their wishes 100% when this day comes, you now find yourself in unchartered waters as two lives, or more, have forever changed.

There’s no magic formula I can provide to you that will tell you how you will feel or how you will react when this day comes. But I will ask you to be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with family and friends, hug someone, sit by yourself if need be, and cry.

I believe there are five emotions one can experience when caregiving ends

  • 1st RELIEF: Yes, it’s okay to feel relief that caregiving is over. Those long sleepless nights are gone, and there is relief and knowing your loved one, your care partner, is now pain-free.
  • 2nd SADNESS: Realizing that the life you once knew together is forever changed. The undeniable reality is that something powerful has happened forever, transforming two or more lives.
  • 3rd GUILT: Oh, that word guilt. Those days that are filled with the mental gymnastics of “what ifs” or “If only I would have done something different” moments, leaving us to wonder about our decisions amid caregiving. Then comes the most significant guilt. Realizing You must continue with your life without the one you loved and cared for. We want to avoid this emotion as much as possible. It is essential to reach out for help when guilt becomes burdensome.
  • 4th ACCEPTANCE: When you wake up that one morning, and you tell yourself, job well done, and you find the strength to live in the present. You realize, no matter what more you think you could have done, your (our) caregiving cape is limited, and as much as we would like to believe we can, we are not capable of changing someone else’s destiny. Acceptance is the elusive emotion to grasp and experience when caregiving ends.
  • 5th ACTION While being mindful of the past, you find the path to take action in the new life by living in the present.

From my experience as a family caregiver, I believe these five emotions are some of the most profound experiences we have when our caregiving journey ends.

There’s no timetable for when you might experience these emotions. Nor is there any set order. I know it took me 15 months to say job well done.

Like a plant that needs water to bloom again, we must find a path for water to bloom again after caregiving ends.

And that old cliché is true…Time heals all wounds, and wounds heal in their own time. And in your time. You will heal too.

Visit our good friends at CareCopilot and learn about the incredible platform they are creating to help make your caregiving day easier so you can set a daily intention for yourself!

Christopher MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the founder of the Whole Care Network.

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