The relationship between a caregiver and their ill or aging family member is a special one. Caregivers dedicate a lot of time and energy to support the health and well-being of their loved one.
Every caregiver knows that one day, their role will come to an end. However, since the everyday responsibilities of caregiving can take up so much effort and time, many people don’t have a plan for when their loved one passes away.
Losing your family member after acting as their caregiver can be a complicated and difficult process, but the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone.
Every caregiver will one day go through the loss of their loved one. When this time comes, there are a few steps you can take in order to support your own healing and honor your family member at the same time.
Make Space for All Feelings
You can expect a flood of emotions when a family member passes away. While grief and sadness are some of the most present emotions during this time, there can also be a sense of relief for caregivers who saw firsthand what their family members had to go through each day.
If your loved one was in pain or uncomfortable leading up to their passing, it’s normal to feel relieved that they are no longer suffering. Additionally, if you’ve been caring for them for many years, it’s also normal to experience a sense of relief for yourself.
Caregiving can be an enriching experience, but it can also be draining and take your attention away from other aspects of your life. Try not to feel guilt for any of the complex emotions you experience toward your loved one’s passing, and allow yourself grace to feel everything.
Join a Support Group
One of the best ways to cope with loss of any kind is to stay connected with others. Grieving the loss of your family member is hard enough without feeling isolated and misunderstood.
Try researching some support groups in your area that are specifically designed for caregivers experiencing loss. You will be able to build relationships with others in the same situation, gain greater perspective through the stories of other group members, and develop new coping strategies.
Additionally, your presence and point of view might even make a significant difference in another caregiver’s healing process.
Seek Individual Therapy
If working through grief privately feels more natural to you than communing with others, finding a therapist who specializes in bereavement could make a massive difference.
Having an unbiased and neutral individual to express your feelings to can be extremely useful, especially if many of your close family members and friends are also experiencing grief at the same time.
While it’s important to spend time with other loved ones who are coping with the same loss, it’s also helpful to be able to talk to someone who has an outside opinion. Your therapist will have a great deal of experience working with people in your situation and can suggest personalized tools to help you cope and move on.
Lean on Your Support System
When your loved one passes away, and you’re dealing with grief, trust that your closest friends and confidants will want to be there for you.
Don’t worry too much about keeping your emotions private; allow your friends to help you, just like you would want to do for them if the situation were reversed. You may even find that your friendships grow deeper when you allow yourself to lean on them in this difficult time.
Keep up Daily Routines
Losing a loved one causes a massive shift in your everyday life, especially if you were their part-time or full-time caregiver. Not only will your emotional well-being be shifted, but your physical routines will be interrupted as well.
While it’s natural for your life to change after a family member passes away, try your best to keep some kind of daily routine as you grieve. Loss can feel very heavy, but maintaining a sense of purpose from day to day can help to support a more positive mental state.
Depending on what you feel up to, a daily routine could include anything from regular exercise and three regular mealtimes to simply making sure that you brush your teeth and make your bed each morning.
Find Ways to Honor Their Memory
As you’re grieving your loved one, don’t try to get them off your mind. Instead, channel your feelings into honoring them. This could look like playing their favorite music, reading their favorite book, or donating to a cause they cared about.
Losing your family member as a caregiver is never easy, but by taking a few steps to face the grieving process head-on, you can make things a bit gentler for yourself.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.