Caregiving can trigger a bunch of difficult emotions. It’s important to acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling, both good and bad. Don’t beat yourself up over your doubts, fears, disappointments and misgivings. These feelings don’t mean you’ve lost love for your family member—they simply mean you’re human.
Five common feelings of a caregiver
- Anxiety and worry – You may worry about how you will handle the additional responsibilities of caregiving and what will happen to your family member if something happens to you. You may also fear what will happen in the future as your loved one’s illness progresses.
- Anger or resentment – You may feel angry or resentful toward the person you’re caring for, even though you know it’s irrational. You might be angry at the world in general, or resentful of other friends or family members who don’t have your responsibilities.
- Guilt – You may feel guilty for not doing more, being a “better” caregiver, having more patience, accepting your situation with more calmness. Wishing you thought clearly under pressure. If you don’t live with your loved one, you may feel guilt for not being available more often for them.
- Grief – There are many losses that can come with caregiving (the healthy future you envisioned with your love one; the goals and dreams you’ve had to set aside). If the person you’re caring for is terminally ill, you’re also dealing with that grief.
- Overwhelmed – There is much responsibility with caregiving. The list seems endless and leads to little sleep. You may try to do more than you can or should. So much to do and not enough time. This is the feeling I fight the most.
We’ve all experienced each one of these feelings. Even when you understand why you’re feeling the way you do, it can still be upsetting. In order to deal with your feelings, it’s important to talk about them. Don’t keep your emotions bottled up. Find at least one person you trust to confide in.
Places you can turn for caregiver support include:
- Family members or friends who will listen without judgment
- Your church, temple, or other place of worship
- Caregiver support groups at a local hospital or online
- A therapist, social worker, or counselor
- National caregiver organizations
- Organizations specific to your family member’s illness or disability
- UnitingCaregivers.com. Add comments, share your story, tip or thought. Email me anytime at Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com