I took care of my mother for 10 years and now that she has passed I feel quite lost. What do I do for the rest of my life?

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After taking care of my 94-year-old mother who passed on in March for the last year and helping her for over 10 years, driving, errands, shopping, money, etc. I feel quite lost. I retired over a year ago and I feel that my job was taking care of her. Now I have no purpose in life at this point since she passed on. I feel sad about it all. I have been talking to a therapist, but it takes a long time to get over everything, I guess. What do I do for the rest of my life? I want to move out of the area, leave the state, as everything reminds me of my mom and what she went through. I thought I would go back to where I grew up, but I am not sure about doing that. It would be nice to be living in a new environment. So I am just not sure what to do for the rest of my life. Thanks.

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Bloom -

Let me assure you, you WILL feel better. It is going to take time. My mom has been gone for a little over 8 months, and it's just now that I'm coming out of the "fog" and feeling like I can move forward in my life.

My suggestion is to get involved with a grief support group or a therapist to help you work through your grief. It's the hardest thing we humans have to deal with - grief - and it does really strange things to our thinking and emotions. Also, as mentioned above, volunteering can really help - because you are helping others, as you helped your mom - it will help you feel useful. If you like animals, contact your local animal shelter or rescue and see if you can socialize cats, walk dogs or something similar.
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Moving on from grief is healthy. Grieving forever is unhealthy. Volunteering is a great idea for the future when you have moved beyond the grief. To me you do not sound ready to volunteer.

I think you should try something completely new. Go to your community college and take a class. Ceramics for Tea Drinkers? Italian Renaissance Cooking? Astronomy for Knitters? You don't know what you want so you have the luxury of exploring the plethora of options at your community college.

Another good way to start exploring is to go to your library, pick a new section every week, and pick one book to browse through. Perhaps you will find yourself pulled toward one section of the library.

Get out of the house! Take a walk. Get into the healthy habit of daily exercise. Start slow. Build up strength both physical and emotional. I know what it's like to feel lost. Do not give up on yourself because feelings are just feelings and you have control over them!!
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You sound like a wonderful caring person! The thing that comes to my mind is - VOLUNTEER. So many people could benefit from your hands and your heart. Nursing home, school, church, community. the needs are certainly there. You seem to have a wonderful helping personality and helping others again will probably give you that reason to get up and going every day. Bless you!!!!
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After I lost my mother when she was age 74.... I was so lost. She was too young (had a massive coronary) and I was living with her at the time. I did not know what to do... Cried all the time. I then decided I was going to try to keep my parent's memory alive. I started doing genealogy. Mom always said she was a "mongrel" when I asked her - I have since found out she was a pedigree - a direct descendant of the Mayflower passengers. It is a wonderful hobby and such a great way to honor your ancestors. I now have over 5,000 names on my family tree. I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning but knew someone had to do it so they wouldn't be forgotten. I know scrapbooking is becoming a thing of the past - but even that would be a great memory keeper - along with photo books. Do a memoir - only you can remember all those great times that you had with your parents as a child. I worked in a nursing home for 17 years and now I do doll shows for the elderly - so if you have a reborn doll that looks like a real baby - you would be a hit! You can't imagine the attention given to the doll!! They love to hold them. I have over 200 dolls that I bring with me..... There are many things you can do. Difficult at first - but you can do it.... Also, I agree with 4teatime - take a little trip somewhere by yourself... even a bus tour.... get out and do something for yourself.... Mom wouldn't want to see you depressed. Best wishes....
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Bloom, as you can imagine mother and I were frequent flyers at our local hospital. Ah, so many happy memories...

On my first assignment as a volunteer, my route took me past the day surgery ward. I really didn't want to walk down that corridor. The whole episode had been strange - she shouldn't have been there, for one thing, but they didn't have any beds in orthopaedics; and I shouldn't have been there because strictly speaking visitors weren't allowed (no time, quick in-and-out it's supposed to be) but seeing as mother was old and deaf and demented they'd let me in to interpret; plus the last time I'd seen her had been at about twenty to one in the morning as they wheeled her off to have her open fracture set under local anaesthetic...

So one way and another it was all a bit emotional, that ward. Not as bad as the stroke ward might have been...

I digress, again. Anyway, my first volunteering assignment was a bit over a year ago. And I am happier to report that I now only glance at the Day Surgery Unit door as I go past it.

You don't forget. You don't "get over it". You do slowly get better at handling it.

The upside of where you are is that you don't have to do anything right now, this week. The downside is that, when you could go anywhere and do anything, it's the devil's own job to decide what you want.

So don't make any irrevocable decisions until the time has come.

Meanwhile, make as many revocable decisions as you can fit in. Say yes to invitations (you can always change your mind). When you see posters and flyers take down the number and get more information - you're not committed to anything. In small ways, though, do commit to *something* - even if it's only going to the library and helping with a children's literacy project or something (rather you than me, I have to admit - don't know why I thought of that example); otherwise you might find yourself welded to the armchair and unable even to make the phone call that every prisoner has a right to. Use your diary and set yourself dates and times to do things even if they don't involve other people; and try to make yourself do them (don't get too ambitious) but don't either beat yourself up if you can't.

You're looking after yourself, now. Imagine you're your mother, only more compliant and quite a bit younger. What would you want you to do?
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Volunteering is a great idea! What do you feel passionately about? You could work with children, animals, seniors. Get involved in local politics or your community. Do some research, see what's out there. When I was caring for my dad I needed to get out of the house from time to time so I volunteered at an adult daycare center for people with brain injuries. I loved it.

I hope you find what you're looking for.
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Hi Bloom,
My circumstances are similar. I lost my mother in January and although she was in a nursing home, I still took care of her. I visited her every day, shopped for her, took her out to eat quite a bit, we played Scrabble, and we spent a great deal of time together. So, like you, now that she's not here and my full-time job is gone, I spend a lot of time ruminating about her. So I now just talk to her :) openly and it helps me. I also went to counseling every other week and that helped. I am also looking to change where I live. Initially I was consumed with de-cluttering the house. This takes a lot of time and will keep you busy; pictures especially. So, now that the house is in good shape, I explore other places to live, in and out of state. I meet friends for lunch or dinner and I hope to work part-time a few days a week. In summary, I don't want to make any commitments of any kind right now for others as this time is about what we need. I'm sure your life, like mine, was on hold as your mother was a priority. I have no regrets and would do it again. It's time for you now. One of my favorite things is my knitting group because we share our personal stories. I would recommend a group activity. I wish you all the best and your mom was fortunate to have you.
Donna
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I know how you feel. I lost both my parents in the same apartment complex I live in. I have decided to go to Independent and Assisted Living. The Assisted Living is because of my husband but I needed to get out of this community. All I see is death. I am an only child so it is just so hard for me to do anything. Take your time, if you decide to move it can be a different place in another part of your town. That is why I chose what I did because mom and I never went downtown together but once. I am so ready for the change. It cannot come fast enough.
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Volunteer with animals who will give so much back to you and a reason to go on. My rescued dog, Sadie says to Think about what you CAN do and not what you CAN'T do, just like me. Sadie doesn't walk like a normal dog, but she can do high tens over her head! Bloom, you can do it! The first step is the most difficult. Let us all know how you are doing! Good luck to you!
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I agree with the suggestions to continue grief counseling and a grief support group. It is okay to change therapists to find one that is most helpful to you. And although you will likely be a great volunteer somewhere, I like the suggestion that you do something other than caregiving first, just for yourself, and maybe a change of scenery! If you have the resources and desire to travel, perhaps a trip/tour group would be good. Pamper yourself! You deserve it!!
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