Every day you are called upon to listen, to support, to take care of and to fix many of your loved ones concerns and issues. It often doesn’t matter that you may be having a difficult day and many times you can have several major issues all occurring at the same time. Everyone wants a piece of you. Changes of hopes, dreams and future plans are an everyday reality. On top of this, you are grieving as the person you know, loved and/or remembered is no longer present with you, emotionally or physically. These are the difficult days of grief.
Keep in mind that grieving is fatiguing. Often, after the death of a loved one, you feel lost, like a ship without an anchor. You are working on redefining your roles as to who you are. Am I still a wife/husband, a mother/father, a grandmother/grandfather, a daughter/son? Where do I fit now that my loved one is no longer with me? Each person’s grief is unique and does not fit neatly into a box. Grief is fatigue, insomnia and aches and pains. Grief is sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger and jealousy. Grief may be feelings of guilt because you are relieved of your responsibilities. Grief is sleep disturbances and dreams. Grief is screaming/crying or complete numbness. Any of these reactions are normal and expected. Grief is often described as an emotional roller coaster with highs and lows along the way. Grief has no right or wrong way and it is never the same for any two people. There is only your way to grieve. Grief is unique and normal to you! At this time, it is essential to give yourself “permission to grieve” and to “feel” whatever it is that you are experiencing. Grief is not something we “get over.” You can not go around grief, in the middle or over it, you must go through grief. Coping with death is a personal experience and something no other person can share in exactly the same way. Pain and tears become you. Remember that tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Tears speak to your feelings about your loved one and about the relationship that you had.
A way that you can assist yourself is to find others who can relate to your grief. Seek out a support group. The beauty of a support group is finding others who recognize what you are feeling. You are not alone…you are not going crazy and you can survive! Seek out emotional nourishment…hugs…laughter and a sense of humor all help you cope and replenish your emotions so you can start again the next day. As a caregiver, know that you did the best you could do at any given time. Do something nice for yourself – read a book, take a long walk, enjoy a bubble bath or even indulge in a hot fudge sundae! Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. Grief is a process, not a one time event. Time, sharing and connecting with caregivers who also have experienced grief can help you define a “new normal.”