When you’re on duty all of the time, making sure your spouse’s or aging parent’s needs are looked after, the reality may be that you’re often feeling exhausted and over-stretched. Being in a state of constant responsibility and vigilance can leave little room to acknowledge the sadness that is likely there beneath the surface.
Sadness. This can be an uncomfortable emotion to name and acknowledge, even with close friends and family; and a hard one to simply be with- yet feelings of sadness and sorrow are commonly felt by caregivers.
Why sadness can be present:
You likely don’t feel connected with your loved one in exactly the same way as before. You probably miss the closeness of having honest conversations, relying on eachother for back-up, and enjoying simple activities together.
When you’re the main person in charge of a spouse or parent’s care, you’re at the helm of the ship, and that can feel downright lonely. Siblings, friends and family members may not fully understand what you’re going through, and won’t be able to offer kindness and support in the specific ways you need.
Loss of dreams.
When a loved one has a significant health issue, it becomes difficult or impossible to enliven the dreams and plans you shared. If you were looking forward to retirement together, it feels sad when instead you’re adjusting to this new reality after your husband or wife’s stroke or cancer diagnosis. If your career was in full swing, you may now be required to scale back the hours you’re working, or to give up a position you were excited about.
In the sadness, remember:
Let it be there. Allow yourself a portion of time every day or every week to simply feel your sadness, and to express it. You might write in a journal, sit and reflect, cry along with a heartfelt song, or watch a movie that you resonate with. Allow the melting away of any resistance you may have towards feelings of sadness.
Connect with your strength. Feeling sad or sorrowful doesn’t make you a weak person. In fact, those who can acknowledge and express sadness demonstrate an inner strength through their willingness to take a closer look at their situation. There is an authenticity in feeling as you feel, and not pushing yourself to pretend that everything is smooth and easy when in fact the journey is disheartening, brutally hard, and filled with grief.
Show kindness to yourself. Find one thing you can do every day that makes you feel grounded, loved, or glad in some way. This act of kindness can be small, such as drinking your favourite tea from a mug that you like; playing a song every morning to get your energy going; or saying no to a friend’s request for extra help when you feel tired. Find your one thing. You are worthy of kindness!
For a guided meditation to surround you with loving presence, try listening to Tara Brach: https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-body-love/
Here’s to gentleness for self, in all of your experiences.