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I was a caregiver for almost 6 years. First my grandma and then my mom. I didn't receive much help so my life revolved around them. I lost touch with friends and family. Now both of them have passed away, and it is hard to pick up your life again. I'm trying to try new things and to make new friends, but some days it feels overwhelming. My mom was always the person I could talk to even when she would have a hard time responding. I loved them both and being alone is hard. I'm not sure what was harder being the sole caregiver without a lot of help, or trying to live without them and being alone. It almost feels like I gave up my chance at a family when I took care of them, but I can't regret doing it because they are so important to me. I just had to talk to some one and this is all I have right now.

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Little. you aren't alone. Many long-term caregivers have to rebuild their lives. You may want to read this agingcare article: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caregiving-ending-after-death-148071.htm
Blessing my friend, you'll make it.
Carol
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cdn -- Because you are executor, it will be difficult to "move on" at the pace you might expect to (and others might expect). Don't beat yourself up over it.

I was not my late mother's executor, but I was the only survivor who lived reasonably close to mom. I became the executor's "shadow figure," because I was frequently the only one who knew so-and-so's phone number.... knew mom's neighbors..... knew where fill-in-the-blank was stashed.....had keys to certain buildings..... knew who my parents' insurance agents, handymen, financial planner & lawyer were..... "had time" to make a jillion trips to cemetery, family home, real estate holdings, you name it.

I didn't get to "put it all behind me" and just....mourn. One year+ of re-living every nook and cranny of a sad passing and half-baked estate planning. It's hard to properly grieve your parent when his/her immediate legacy is chores, phone calls, unanswered questions and reams of paperwork.

Hang in there. You will be grumpy and feel lost and have zombie moments. If your mourning is a slow burn with some dips and curves, so be it. We get so entangled with the last parent. It's a rough ride.
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Dear Friends, I am so glad I found this thread. I was looking for guidance. My father passed away 6 weeks ago. I am lost. I spent every day for the last three years after his stroke trying to make sure he had everything he needed. I miss seeing him every day. The siblings have seemed to move on but as the primary caregiver and executor, I feel stuck. I don't know how to go forward, maybe its too soon. The counsellor suggesting planning a vacation as a distraction. But I think that is only a brief distraction. I read about grief work and I don't know how to see the future at this point.
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That was very brave & generous of you Little! Were they easygoing or difficult personalities? I´m finding it extremely difficult with both my insane parents...thanks for your inspirational account!
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Oh Little, my heart goes out to you. I totally understand where you're coming from.Your statement is my story - except I was the solo caregiver of both of my parents and now just my mother. Just as you were very close to your mother, I was very, very close to my father and I could talk to him about anything. And though he's no longer with me/us, whenever I make a decision, I say quietly under my breath, "I hope this is a good one, Dad." And like you, my prime years to have a chance at having a family of my own were spent taking care of my parents. Caregiving consumed me/is still consuming me that overtime I, like you, lost contact with friends. And because of the caregiving, I don't have anything in common with them as I've changed. Caregiving really puts into perspective what's important in life. I think it's okay for you to be lost, to be sad, to be angry, to be lonely, to be whatever it is you need in order for you to heal and transition into the next phase of your life. You know you best. And if solitude and being on the AC community is what you need for now, then good for you. But you are willing and ready, I think you should consider doing something fun, something out of your comfort zone. Push yourself. Challenge yourself. Take a risk. Personal growth is how we really learn how to be ourselves.
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Little, how are you feeling after your appointment today? I sure found a great counselor to talk to. This site has also helped alot, so many people going through so many similar things.
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Little, these special days will be hard. They always are for those of us who lose loved ones, and I don't know what to tell you but echo the others. You could, if the idea attracts you, offer to help serve Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners at a local church or the Salvation Army. JudyJourneys mentioned checking local church websites which is a great idea. Your local newspaper may also have listings but checking the sites ahead will let you plan if you want to attend services or help out. If the Salvation Army or another organization that helps feel the homeless needs help - and they almost always do - you can call them directly.

Don't feel bad about yourself if getting out and being involved isn't what you want. This works very well for some people. Others need to work it though in a quieter way. Talk to your counselor about this and see what she/he thinks.

Please keep us updated.
Carol
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Check the websites of churches in your area for times of their holiday services.
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I have found that volunteering on holidays helps me feel less lonely. I volunteered at a nursing home two years ago and helped get residents to their church service. It was nice to be around other people on that day and helping others. So if you feel like it might help you, check out where they're offering meals for the homeless and volunteer. Good luck and please keep us posted. Many of us will be here on Thanksgiving and Christmas...so you won't be alone. I'm on my computer every day, so feel free to message me on my wall and we can share those holidays. Hugs...
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Little, it is a process. I think getting involved, as Ephesians says, is a way to avoid greiving. Those that can do it, just get involved with something, that is to their credit. But for me, it is going to take personal work and time.
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I'm glad to hear you've sought counsel...the "1sts" were hard for me. You will find yourself again, in a whole new, yet different way. At first, I tried to volunteer, yet decided to just "be" for a bit. I realized, for me, seeking outside "things" were my way of avoiding grieving. "Griefshare.org" was a huge blessing for me.
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I'm still here. I decided to try counseling. I have my first appointment on Monday. I have less bad days now, but it's the loneliness that's hard. I'm really worried about Thanksgiving and Christmas. My birthday was a couple weeks after my mom died and it was not a good day. I'm thinking of some kind of service on Thanksgiving but I couldn't find anything on the Internet. Any ideas?
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We needed it too!
hugs,
Carol
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mabe you could volenteer at a nursing home to help with feeding the bedridden and help with activites or just keep some one company
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Little, are you still there? Would like to hear your thoughts.
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Little75, what worked for me after my father died was to write about our journey together. I had to reach way down emotionally as I reviewed my childhood, for my father was a mean alcoholic. But I knew he did not deserve abuse and neglect. I fought for him daily for the last two years of his life. Our mutual love was evident.
You might find writing a cathartic experience for you also. I published our story (Before the Door Closes), but you would not have to do that to receive healing, peace, and rest.
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ADC, after four years of 24/7 care, the last thing I want is to be caregiving! Some may resign themselves to that, but I will not be one of them! I know my background would be interesting, if I can do it for a family member, I can do it for anybody?! Not a chance. The only way I would be able to do it is FOR a family member.
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Your caregiving skills are valuable and could an avenue for part-time employment if you live in medium or large city. You could be a companion or set up an errand services for elderly persons.
Caring for your mother gives you hand-ons experience caring for a person with that terrible disease.
Depending on your background, a geriatric managment firm might find your background interesting. In fact, I look for former caregivers for my business. I am not suggesting a full-time position, but a part-time one.
You have had enornous changes in your life. Do take time to care for yourself.
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Little75: As caregiver for my momther (it's been 6 years) full time, I appreciate your willingness to share the disconnect you feel. I cannot imagine life without my mom. God bless you on your next journey in life. My cousin just lost his brother to whom he was caregiver. He belives it's now time for him to reconnect with family. I hope you can reconnect with family and friends. Sounds like you have a lot of catching up to do.
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I only lost my mom this summer, and have a lot of time where I am just frozen. Stuck staring. I know there are things I have to do, but I cannot get going on them. I am still cleaning out her house, and getting it ready for sale (almost there). But it is bittersweet, because Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, and for the very first time, I will have to have these holidays at my own home, and we don't have nice furniture, china, and all the "things" that my mom had, to make it special.
I know it sounds petty to complain about the china. But I hand-washed hers for, oh, only 40 years, with her at my side. Guess what, the china has been picked up by one of my sisters.....I really loved that china, and my sister has no idea, because she only came to a couple holidays at mom's house. (and sister has her own set of china, besides).
So I guess I am a little depressed, and also a little angry. I spent so much time with mom, and also with my dad, and now I am all alone. But still have a lot of work to do to get mom's house SOLD, and after that, her taxes, and all the paperwork to close out the estate.
And there is no money to pay me any Executor fee.
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In response to Carespeaker who said, "I learned from each death experience that the loss of someone during the care giving process leaves us with deep sense of failure," I have a slightly different twist on that idea.

I had a dear, dear friend who died from kidney cancer, despite my best efforts to advocate, do research, and support him. I did everything in my power to save him and I couldn't. When he died, I finally could realize and ACCEPT that I don't control the universe. That no matter how perfectly I could do anything, no matter how much research I could do and how much knowledge I could amass, I can't make someone live through advanced kidney cancer. Knowing that my powers were limited (and human) took a huge burden off of my shoulders. Because before that, I thought if I just tried harder and found more and better information, I could solve any problem. I couldn't.

I've tried to remember that lesson in caring for my dad (who's now also gone) and my mom, who's still here at 95. We can only do what we can do and when our care giving is done, we have to move forward with strength and the knowledge that we did our best. And that was good enough.
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You are very brave, and your conscience is telling you that you did the right thing. It will probably be very difficult to pick the pieces at first, but take it one step at a time. You are never too old to date, have interests, and live a life. You certainly owe it to yourself!
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Carespeaker1, thank you so much for your description of the deep sense of failure after death of loved one. I cared for my first husband through cancer, and still worked full time because I carried the medical insurance. We are over an hour from his cancer ward in good hospital, so there were many fast trips there every time he got an infection that went septic. The last infection killed him. I was not only grieving, but absolutely exhausted. Guilt wasn't realized until a long time afte.

Little 75, advice for me was, every day get up, suit up, and show up. I left the house every day, and being with/ talking with people was essential. Please let us know how you are progressing.
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I was sole caregiver of my husband of 50 years for a long time.
he passed away in July.
it is very difficult to know what to do.
for me, I know I need my church friends - met some new ones and working on a bond, widows understand each other.
there is a widow/caregiver group that I expect to join Monday.
there are caregivers there who took care of their parents, etc. who have since passed away
I took up a hobby that I loved and had to put on hold while I took care of my husband... still working on getting friendships going in the clubs I joined to pursue my favorite hobby... photography.
in the meantime, I take my camera and my best buddy-my doggie who is 11 years old and we go out about an hour in the evening, walking and I take photos of sunsets, etc.
take up a new hobby you might have thought about doing, find others who do it.
even going to craft stores there is usually someone shopping in the same department you might strike up a conversation about the hobby...
God will direct when you listen.
I am looking for a volunteer project to put my talents in to help others.
at this time, it will not be in a caregiver setting... wound too raw.
I hope you will post back in a few months and let us know how you are doing.

this should be a great resource since I found the caregivers
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I learned from each death experience that the loss of someone during the care giving process leaves us with deep sense of failure.

I don't mean the care giving effort was wasted or not appreciated, its just the futile angry feeling that you did everything possible; followed thru, followed up, demanded, pleaded, corrected, supervised, threatened,, reported........in an attempt to control and extend the process and you still lost.....

Im not saying it is a permanent feeling, or long lasting condition but initially for me it was a part of my grieving process.
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Really good answers here so far, and I wanted to add this. Your caregiving skills could be the pathway to a new job, if that's what you want to do.

Of course, be sure you're ready to make such a move. When you are, don't discount your experience taking care of your family - your skills are valuable! You could apply your gifts as a paid job or as a volunteer job. Senior facilities, community programs, Area Agencies on Aging, churches, etc. always need volunteer help in so many ways. Helping others has many benefits for one's self as well as the people you serve.
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Thank you, Carol. Rather long and drawn out, but I NEEDED that!
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Wonderful response, gladimhere. You've been a blessing on this community.
We're wishing you to best in your job search. I hope that you find a company that deserves you!
Carol
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Thank you for sharing and giving all of us a chance to grieve with you and to encourage you. I lost my father 6yrs ago and am presently facing the huge and painful decision of whether I need to place my mother, an Alzhiemer victim, some where, as her condition has become one beyond what I can care for. It feels so lost and lonely, but you are not alone. Allow yourself time to grieve over not just your loss but the life you've become. But be proud of where you have been, who you are, and where you are going. All the suggestions here are great. When your ready, get busy with something that is for you. Nothing is more fulfilling than volunteering. You get to feel yourself being useful again and doing something you love. And it's a great way to meet people, many who have been through what you have. This site has been a lifesaver to me and I hope that knowing people are there for you can help you as well. I personal volunteer in a free Bible education work. Not only has this helped me see my value and purpose in life, it helps me to help others to do the same. As mentioned, please keep us informed on how you are doing. My prayers are with you. Judy
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My caregiving has also come to an end after four years of providing 24/7 care for my mom with Alzheimer's and her hubby with general age related decline, and truth be told, I think early stages of dementia. They were both moved by my twisted sibs to a senior living community, mom in memory care, he in assisted. There was little help from in town sibs, in fact the opposite they caused a tremendous amount of additional stress and it evolved into legal wrangling. It has been nearly five months now.

I have been looking for work, I want to return to my profession, which I loved. In fact, I am hoping receive a job offer today for a position I interviewed for last week. There are some positions that I applied for that I have not heard back at all. Another one I did hear back via postcard telling me that I did not meet minimum qualifications for the position. That was completely unexpected. This employer wanted someone with ten years combined experience and education. I completed my Master's degree while caring for my folks, there was no way, with twenty-five years experience in my field coupled with my education that I did not meet minimum qualifications! So, I emailed HR and the acting director of the department asking for clarification and whether four years of caregiving had impacted their decision. The response I received was an apology indicating the postcard had been filled out incorrectly and my resume had been sent on to the department. Hmmmm.... Whatever. This was the first time that I advocated for myself through looking for work.

I became so accustomed to advocating for the folks that I was not prioritizing advocating for myself. And the first time I did, received the response I was hoping for. Another reason I decided to ask why, was the acting director is also the director of the Agency on Aging in this community. If anybody understands the caregiving role it would be that woman.

Finishing caregiving is an adjustment. My days had been some sort of constant chores all the while advocating for the folks. So, I switched focus from them to me. I need, and Little, you need to learn to advocate and care for yourself. It is a process, for sure. I still spend alot of time by myself which is the sort of person I am. I have always enjoyed alone time, in fact I don't know how I managed four years of caregiving.

Getting my life back is difficult. Finding work will help and has given me other things to think about other than the occurrences of the past four years, much of it very hurtful. Counseling helps, as I found someone that specializes in caregiver issues. Initially, after the move all of our talks centered around the vindictiveness of my sibs and how much more difficult they made my task. Counselor would always ask what am I doing about getting my life back. I did not have an answer. My caregiving experience was all consuming with very little time for me. Now all my time is mine. Now, I notice our chats are gradually shifting to be concentrated on me and where I am going rather than revolving around what the sibs have done to me and the folks the past years.

How long ago did your mom pass? My mom has not passed, but I have lost her both to the disease and her daily presence in my life. I too am grieving, though differently than you are, Little. It is going to take both of us time to move on. One day at a time. Baby steps. Finding things that we are interested in doing, but first lots of me time to process what we have done these last years and where we want to go.

My only advice is take your time to grieve. Find a group that you would like to get to know and participate in. Book clubs, knitting, sewing, walking or even just meeting for coffee. Check to see what "meetup" groups are in your area if you want to make friends. These are relatively easy to participate in and there are thousands in my area. If you do not like the first group you attend, try another and another. Volunteer work is also a very good way to meet people, while helping others.

Best wishes to you, and to me too.
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