If your loved one had been ill for some time, perhaps the grieving process had already begun before their actual passing. However, the physical loss of a loved one can leave a vast hole in your life which, understandably, may be difficult to fill.
In this blog we break down how to understand and handle caregiver grief…
Understanding caregiver grief
One of the most overwhelmingly common feelings after the loss of someone you are caring for is a feeling of purposelessness.
Your life has revolved around their schedule, their needs and their daily routine. After their passing, you may even find yourself questioning who you are and what you’re supposed to do with your time.
Along with this, outside support that was once so reliable will gradually disappear too. The assistance of hospice services, visiting family members and friends, helpful neighbours and colleagues may also dissipate over time, only adding to a feeling of emptiness and loss.
However, not all is lost.
While dwelling on the past is no solution to moving on from grief, searching your own past could prove helpful in establishing your future beyond caregiving.
A few questions to ask yourself as you move through the motions of your grief:
- What did I enjoy doing with my time before becoming a caregiver?
- I have not always been a caregiver, I have also been (fill in the blank)
- What have I always dreamed of doing or becoming?
- What hobbies did I enjoy before caregiving that I can pick up once again?
- What or who have I neglected during my caregiving responsibilities that I can focus my attention on now?
Denial, confusion, frustration and even resentment are also some of the feelings which could make their way into your grieving process. These feelings are only natural and need to be acknowledged as you begin to come to terms with your grief.
Helping fellow caregivers or someone you know to deal with their loss
Perhaps you know of a friend or fellow caregiver who may have recently lost a loved one and you are looking to offer a helping hand during their grieving process.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when offering support:
- Make yourself available – offer support at all hours of the day.
- Listen without offering advice – just listen.
- Try not to offer comparative stories of your own, this has a way of dismissing grief.
- Be patient when those grieving express anger, resentment or bitterness – allow them to go through the emotions and understand their grief.
- The grieving process and the pain of it must be endured in order to move on. Give your loved one or friend the time and space to do so.
- Be patient, understanding and kind without being patronising.
- Don’t force out emotions or feelings from those grieving – allow them time to process how they feel.
- Don’t shy away from physical touch – a good hug or holding of a hand can go a long way.
- Be there when it’s all said and done – be there when everything goes back to ‘routine’.
- Offer additional support during particular times of the year such as Christmas, anniversaries and birthdays, as these occasions can be especially difficult.
Whether you are experiencing a personal loss or helping a fellow caregiver, you need to understand that there are layers upon layers to the grieving process.
It’s important to seek out support groups to help you through the process of grief. Local hospice groups or medical centres will always be there for anyone trying to deal with the loss of a loved one – you are never alone!