Many parts of your caregiving journey will inevitably involve grief. Grief over changes in your loved one, grief over what shifts in routines and responsibilities, and grief over loss. When your caregiving journey has been long, it can be especially challenging to adjust to life after your loved one has passed. Caregivers are often left with the looming question: “what now?” When so much of your time and energy has been spent caring for your loved one, what does life look like now that they’ve passed?
Be gentle with yourself. As with other parts of your caregiving journey, it is crucial to be gentle with yourself during this time. You might be feeling a host emotions – from sadness and fear to frustration and guilt. Everyone experiences loss in different ways, and your emotions will depend greatly on what your relationship with your loved one looked like. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, and try to resist the urge to dampen uncomfortable feelings.
Connect. Spending some time alone to reflect and regroup is important, but spending too much time alone can be detrimental to your well-being. Consider connecting with a grief support group or a counsellor to talk about this transition and to work through your emotions. Both resources can help with big transitions – you do not need to be struggling in a big way to take advantage of these options! If your loved one was connected to a palliative program, such as Every Day Counts, one-on-one counselling may be available to you free of charge. Spending time with family and friends who make you smile and laugh is also important. Reach out to anyone that makes you feel good – even those who you’ve lost touch with! Chances are, they’ll be very happy to hear from you.
Get involved. Is there something you’ve been thinking about doing for years, but have felt you didn’t have the time? Now is a great time to do that thing that lights you up. Maybe it’s as lavish as taking a trip you’ve been dreaming of, or as simple as taking a pottery course or even just picking up a few books from the library and taking the time to read them. Whatever it is, make it a priority to do that thing now.
Cassandra Van Dyck