Caregiving is over...what do I do now?

Follow
Share

For the past seven years I've been caring for my parents almost 24/7 (with taking little breaks to go to school part time). My mother passed in 2016 and my father passed just a few weeks ago. I thought my father's passing might be easier as I was closer to my mother (although I was close to my father,too,at least in the past few years) but, in fact, it's been harder. There just seems to be a vast emptiness in me now that both my parents are gone. At first there was a certain sense of relief and freedom, but then I started asking myself, what am I now? What am I here for? I've self identified as a caregiver so much for so long that I started wondering if the world even needs me now. I am doing well in school, and I contributed chapters to a recently published academic book, but I still can't figure out what the next part of life is going to be. On top of it, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and clinical depression, so that hasn't helped. And I'm being more social and planning to join a bereavement group. But I still feel lost.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
9

Answers

Show:
I hope you can find a good support group. Checkout Meetup.com. And if you don't find what you're looking for, consider starting your own group. I did this 4 years ago, and by the end of the week, I had 7 new members. Now the group has over 300 members. Not that you want a huge group, but it shows the reach of social media.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I certainly understand your dilemma Charlie. In some way your statement reflects similarly for many, including myself. We were married 3 years before she was diagnosed in 1983.
My wife is now in a home after my being her part time for a while, then 24/7 sole caregiver for 20 years with an occasional respit. I too thought, life will open up for me and I can relax now. But I find that the long term caregiving and accompanying isolation changed me. I placed my old self somewhere else in my mind and now don’t really know how to acclimate. It’s like wearing cement shoes metaphorically. I wish I had an answer for you. Then I’d take my own advice.
I feel like we all entered a maze. Some find the way out quickly while others remain lost even though there’s a way out. My wife’s been out of the house going on 4 years. No doubt that I am now the problem.
One way way or the other, it’s on me to find the way out.
Good luck to you brother.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

You have my deepest sympathy, Charlie. Be gentle with and kind to yourself. Get good sleep. Eat well. Get outside and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. Honor your parents by honoring yourself. You were a good son. And that's enough right now as you sit with your sadness and learn to live a new life.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

(((((charlie))))) you are going through normal grieving. It takes time. When I lost my youngest son I had that same feeling of "Why am I here" even though I had three other children. Grief is lonely. When you are ready a grief group could be very helpful. Keep in touch...
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Thank you both so much! DeeMayfield7, those are wonderful ideas, and you're right, I need to give this time. Just feels so "yucky" right now and so lonely. But the fact that both of you seem to care so much right now reminds me of the fact that I'm not.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Charlie, my heartfelt sympathy for the passing of your Dad.  You asked what to do now. Like you, my Mom had passed first, and then my Dad just a year ago.

Now for me, when I was digging through a ton of old files that my folks had, I came across what looked like a start of a family tree that my Dad had been working on years ago. Then I had a light bulb moment, I was going to try to continue on with that family tree. I signed up for Ancestry. Well, this little family tree grew into a redwood.

Doing the tree honestly made me feel so much closer to those long ago relatives that I never met. Happiness was finding a photo to see if that person resembled the rest of the family. And it was interesting seeing the medical family tree, see how one generation would pass on certain health traits to the next generation. Example, when I was much younger I had a lazy eye, never thought much about it then recently I wondered who did I inherit that from... well, found a photo of my great-great grandfather as a teen, sure enough there it was !!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Hi Charlie. No one can truly know exactly how you feel as we are all individuals. I do have a little idea how it might feel for you; I have gone through similar feelings when my Mom died. * I think we get a STRONGER feeling of loss when the second parent dies. I had this overwhelming feeling that -- I was loose without family strings to tie me to who I was. I had suddenly become an orphan. That was it -- I was an ADULT ORPHAN... with no parent - floating along with nothing to tie me to the person I was and the family I had always known. -- You see...although I missed my Mom terribly - I also missed her on another level -- SHE was my only connection with my Dad too. As long as I had her - I had a PART of my Dad. And now that too was gone. ------------- I hope some of these "tid-bits" of wisdom and 'how-tos' will help: 1) Give yourself the gift of TIME. It's only been a few weeks - and as yucky as it feels - you are supposed to feel the loss - loss of purpose and loss of what to fill you time with. Change - whether chosen or not - is always uncomfortable. Wade through the muck, and you WILL come out on the other side of this. Give yourself TIME to grieve, TIME to join the bereavement group, TIME to look at doing something you may not have had a chance to do in the past number of years, TIME to find out WHAT makes you YOU... You have been a faithful care partner to your parents - NOW - be a faithful care partner to yourself. (I always asked myself -- IF it was a friend going through THIS that I am going through -- what would I tell him/her?) And then I'd try to take my own advice. It's so much easier to help someone else than it is to help ourselves anyway. (smile). 2) SET a goal - even a small on. Make it an on-going goal such as -- Every week - when I go shopping, I'm going to talk to one stranger. OR Each week, I'm going to try something NEW once a week - a craft, a new book, a different type of puzzle, bicycle riding, visit a museum in town, ask a family member if you can come over for lunch - or visit for the weekend..., connect with an old school mate, etc. Something new every week for the rest of the year (That's 11 weeks of newness - Who knows it may become a habit - and you keep it up into 2018 !) 3) KEEP A JOURNAL -- not just any journal Buy an inexpensive spiral journal. Draw a line across every page. (that will bore you to tears, but keep you busy for about 15 minutes ! hahaha...) Then - EVERY DAY until the end of the book - do this. In the evening right before bed each night -- write ALL THE NEGATIVE -- how bad you feel, what you miss, how angry you are, anything that happened that was yucky that day... ONLY WRITE THIS AT THE TOP OF THE LINE. And at the bottom... you MUST write at least ONE thing that is good. Your goal is to fill up the bottom of each page eventually -but don't make yourself do that until you are ready. But Positive things are: Positive feelings about that day or future, Something(s) you did right that day, a new person you met, a new THING you tried, anything that brought you joy or any accomplishment you made. --------2nd night you write - you READ the top of the previous page - then tear it off at the line (only the top ) and RIP it up and throw it away - leaving the bottom of the page intact. The 3rd night you throw the 2nd nights negatives away... so that EACH night you read and throw away the former day's negatives -- keeping the positives. --- THEN -- when you feel really low in the months to come you go back and read all the neat, new things you have tried and all the good feelings you've feld. --------Charlie, even after the major grieving is over... there may be times here and there that the WAVES AND WAVES of loss wash over you again. DON'T be frightened by them, don't fight them. Count them as -- this is a time to think of the ones you loved and how important they were (and are) to you and your life. Their teachings and their influence will stay with you. It will. And it should. Some time in the future... you will stop and think and be surprised - that you can think about your Mom and/or your Dad and not feel so much sharp pain. I wish you well on this next - exciting - journey in your life. Dee
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Thank you, freqflyer.
He passed at home like my mom. I enrolled him in home hospice just a few weeks before he passed. The day he passed I just had a feeling that this was it, so I sat beside him all day holding his hand, stroking his head, and playing music that I knew he loved. It was a Saturday and he passed early Sunday morning. I'm so glad I was there with him at the end.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Charlie, great to hear from you again. May I ask did your Dad pass or did he move to a nursing home?
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions