How do I cope with the loss of an elderly woman I was taking care of?

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I am having a hard time with the loss of the elderly woman I was taking care of. Within a months time she went from just needing some guidance due to her barely being able to see or hear. She could do everything herself, it was like a babysitting job. She had an extremely fast decline in her health, she needed more and more assistance. I spent 3 nights a week 8 hour shifts with this woman taking care of her like my children or how I would take care of my own mother. I loved her family and they loved how good I was to her and how well she responded to me. I spent the last night of her life alone with her holding her hand listening to music my whole shift. The next day she was gone. I am beyond lost and confused about how I feel about everything I experienced in only a month but felt like a year.

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I think the best way to cope is go to a caregiver support group or something similar. Hospitals or senior centers are great places to ask for those type of meetings. Talking about it to someone who shares the same connection you did with this person will hopefully ease the pain.
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When we get into this business of caregiving, regardless of our role, if we're dealing with people who are older and/or have illness, it is a risk we expose ourselves to. It can be extremely sad. The very aspects of your personality that make you such a wonderful and dedicated caregiver, are what cause you to also feel the pain of loss. If you didn't, you wouldn't be as caring a person. Sort of like you have to have rain to appreciate and see the rainbow. In the beginning of my career as a social work, I took each loss a little more personally; would even attend funerals. But as I became more experienced I came to realize that no matter what we're taught or told, there ARE going to be people we do care more about than others. And that's okay. I also came to realize that as much as it is a cliché, death is part of life. For all of us. So if those of us who help others can make life a bit easier...we are doing good. Of course I say that without working with anyone as intensely as you do/did. Sometimes it helps if your employer allows you to attend the funeral or service. Some employees exploit this so many employers do not...but as we are caregivers, it is often a very lonely and isolated type of grieving. Confidentiality often prevents our sharing details. In my area the local hospice program provides (at least they did) some grief counseling as they called it; they even have (or had) some evening programs where art therapy type projects were done in memory of the person who was lost. And there was no charge (or it was nominal) for any of it. I hope things go easy for you and that the pain diminishes over time.
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I would like to add that perhaps writing about this woman, like a short biography, and describing the qualities that you most appreciated, would be helpful--not only to you, but to any other relatives or friends of hers. In this way you are preserving her memory and to a younger generation that knew her or may never have gotten to meet her, they may find qualities they admire or see in themselves, too, and feel connected to this person.
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I don't know how religious you are but many believe this existence is not even a blink of the eye compared to the eternal existence beyond. As to you and the here and now you could try to read some psychology books to see if you can better understand emotion and therefore why and how you feel so bad about your friends passing. You may also think of those worse off than you like Mothers who have lost children and spouses who have lost their partners. Try and get your mind off you. Put more simply just stay busy and focused on something you like to do and when your mind snaps back to the passing then you shake it off by forcing your self onto another track. Don't try drugs or alcohol because you’re just swapping one problem out for another. You can do this and remember there are those who have suffered MUCH worse than you.
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Thank you for being such a loving, caring caregiver. For family, it is wonderful to know a loved one is in such good hands. For the elderly woman, I imagine it was a blessing to be with someone kind and loving and caring at the end.

Now, to answer your question. It sounds like you are grieving. You bonded with this woman, and now she is gone. It may be bringing up memories of other loved ones you have lost. Or, you just may be missing her and grieving for her. Grief goes away on its on timetable. Be kind to yourself during the grief. If it doesn't start to go away in a month or so, it may be right to get professional counseling. Thank you for being the caregiver all families hope and pray they are able to find.
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If you belong to a church or other place of worship see if they have a bereavement support group.
You suffered a loss just like the family, maybe even more so since you were involved greatly in her care for so many hours each day.
Accept the fact that you helped this woman in the last days of her life and you made her life more comfortable and her passing easier.
If you are close with the family or if you wish to express how you feel write a letter telling them how much you liked caring for this woman and share any memories you have of her.
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The best way you can handle this from my experience anyway it's to start by writing a journal of whatever happens to be on your heart. I use the notepad in my mobile device because it's easily erasable and paperless. Write everything to her that you couldn't tell her when she was living. Address it to her by name as though you were writing her a letter. You can either read it back or have your speech engine read it back to you and edit it as needed. Anytime you feel bad or just have thoughts, just open up your journal because your journal will help you get over it. I had to write journals to various people who have died so I know what I'm talking about from personal experience. You can write journals to anyone who is been good or bad to you, mine have been mostly bad but that doesn't necessarily mean I won't have someone die who is been good to me and can write a good journal. All you do is just say what's on your heart good or bad. For instance, if you know how they died and it was preventable, just write about that as though you were talking to them in person and say in your own words why you know they could've still been living. Write everything you know, this will help your heart heal and get over the grief
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One of the things I have learned in studying different religions is that if I pray for someone who has passed on, I can help their soul advance closer to God. I no longer feel "cut off" when a loved one passes. I believe their soul is in a much better place now and I can still do something for them. Their love for me has not stopped, my love for them has not stopped. Being able to do something positive for them eases the pain of this separation. But, yes, for me the grief is still there, but not as powerful as before. There is the hope that in some point in time we will be together again. Now in getting rid of all my friends' belongings as their P.O.A., I try to get their stuff to the most neediest people, knowing my friends would agree to this. Putting their things to a good use for those who need it most honors their beliefs. Sometimes it feels like they are with me (in spirit, of course) when I follow this path.
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You gave that lucky woman the best gift a child could ever give their mother! Allow yourself a time of grief, you deserve it! You can rest assured that you made her very happy! You are a very kind soul to give a woman that's not family the best love that a lot of family members don't get !! God Bless you! Many-many hugs to you Arita88
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Grief doesn't need to be 'blood related'

I am sorry for your loss - and yes, this was a loss to you.
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