The 4 negative feelings every caregiver experiences
If you’ve ever had to care for an elderly or sick loved one, you’ll know it can take a heavy emotional toll. You can grow to resent them, feel anger towards them, even grieve them despite the fact they’re still there. However, while all these emotions are natural, they can also be dangerous. Make sure you take action at the first signs of resentment, guilt, worry and grief to ensure a healthy caregiving experience. Here are some ways you can conquer these negative emotions when acting as a caregiver.
It can be hard just to come to terms with the idea of resenting your loved one, but you need to realise that it is a perfectly natural to experience these feelings when looking after someone. Many caregivers give up their careers, their hobbies and all of their free time in order to be by their loved one’s side, so it’s understandable to resent the loss of your lifestyle. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to cope with these emotions. We suggest considering hiring in-home help, splitting the responsibility with a family member, making sure you’re getting enough ‘me time’, or maybe venting into a journal.
It’s unavoidable that throughout the caring process you’ll have thoughts such as, “I should be visiting every day” or “If Dad knew what was going on he would hate that I’ve put him in a nursing home.” You need to first understand that these feelings are very common among caregivers, especially when feeling like you have a responsibility to give your all, 24/7. Sometimes high expectations are never going to match reality. When having guilty thoughts, remind yourself that you’re doing what you think is best for all involved. Click here for some great ways on overcoming guilt.
Are you a constant worrier? Try as you might but sometimes it can be impossible to switch off those fretful thoughts. Although a little bit of worry here and there doesn’t hurt, when you start worrying to the point of physical pain or stress, it’s time to get some help. Try talking to a friend or family member. Sometimes simply sharing your negative thoughts can help take the weight off your shoulders. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing such things with your loved ones, it might be best to seek out some professional help. In the meantime, read our helpful and easy tips on reducing stress and anxiety here.
Yes, it’s possible to grieve someone while they’re still around – especially if your loved one is suffering from a disease which strips them of their memory or basic skills like walking and talking. There is an upside, however. By experiencing feelings of loss and coming to terms with the inevitable, when your loved one finally passes away, while you will still experience grief and sadness, you’ll feel much more at peace and in control of your emotions with the knowledge that you’ve been processing the death for a long time. This is known as ‘anticipatory grief’. Take a look at our tips for dealing with grief here.