I've been told my anxiety could be grief. Anyone else feel that?

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I am primary caregiver for my Dad (84). he is becoming more dependent daily. I was told that changing roles is a kind of death and that I'm greiving for the dad I had. How do you deal with that??

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What you are experiencing is normal with what you are dealing with. My Mom was always the rock in our family. 13 years ago we were told that Mom had 6 months to 2 years to live with an inoperable sarcoma. I have been grieving for 13 years. I am always bracing for more bad news...for 13 years now, and now she is 92 and has additional health problems In the last 7 months things really went downhill, she cannot walk or stand on her own since she was hospitalized, first with a broken arm from a fall, then with UTI's and delirium. She developed diabetes though she is just about 100 pounds. She developed a bedsore in the first" high rated" nursing home she was in,and then from the second "high rated" nursing home she developed osteomyelitis from the wound and was hospitalized for 6 weeks for IV antibiotic. She is now here with us and nurses who come in. She is mentally sharp but with so many different health problems, though seems like the sarcoma which gave her 6-24 months to live 13 years ago is no longer an issue. I have been grieving for her for 13 years, but now for the last 7 months especially. How could this not cause someone to have anxiety? I keep hearing that there are more and more things that will cause more difficulties and medications. It feels at times like a knife in my back being turned as slowly as possible or like I am slowly walking into a swimming pool of acid. Then other times I know I do what I must and take it one day at a time. How long can a person go through this grieving?....
I read somewhere that many people with older parents are in constant grieving mode for the strong parent that is no longer there and continually declining over a very prolonged period of time. You are not alone in this.
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Bknoepfler I also had that in relation to my father. I grew up in a home with a very strong father - one who ruled the roost and who everyone tiptoed around. He was military and so my brother and I learned to tow the line early on.

As he hit his 80s, that changed. He became much softer and less sure of himself. He looked to me - to ME(!) to lead the way. That was a real change and a shock to my system. Luckily I was seeing a counselor at the time and she told me I was doing early grieving because I'd be so weepy when I talked about him. I told her it was like the lion (now old) had lost his teeth and his roar. It made me really sad. Once I had a name for it and an idea that made sense, I was able to cope very well.

My dad died at 92 and the last nine years of his life, while he lived up here near me, were the best we'd ever had. We'd butted heads most of my life, but in those years, I felt a kinship with him and his sense of humor and smarts. I could see how alike we were in many, many ways. So I feel very blessed for that time where we were able to have a really good relationship. I wish the same for you and your dad.
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Grieving now means things will be different later. I don't know if they are "easier" necessarily, but the grief I experienced with my husband's death was not a sudden devastating overwhelming loss. I had already lost him in many ways. It is still hard, two years later. But it wasn't "hard" in quite the same way as "conventional" grief at the time of his death.

As Pam says, embrace each day. But be gentle with yourself!
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Bknoepfler I can so relate to you. My mom was always my best friend. When it became obvious to me that her health was declining rapidly and I could no longer look to her for strength because she needed me to be strong for her it was a very rapid role reversal.

I have felt the grief you describe. Its very difficult when you realize that your parent is never going to be what they once were. It does get easier though especially since you don't really have a choice. Knowing I am doing all I can for my mom to make her life easier helps but as far as the grief you just have to experience it and eventually it doesn't hurt as much.

I
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Thank you so much for your answers. Until today, I had never thought of myself as grieving. Jeanne - I will look for that book. I don't suppose that grieving now means things will be easier later? I know, I know. My husband tries to help but I do have one other person I can talk to. I just hate to put it all on her. Sh does listen and was the one who thought I might be experiencing grief.
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Live within the moment. At 80, every day is a gift. Yes, you are beginning to grieve, can you push that aside and live within one day at a time? Just one more day at a time?
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I think it is natural to grieve for the loss of a loved one as that loved one diminishes in his capacity to be who he is. This is what therapist Pauline Boss calls "ambiguous loss" -- you are mourning for someone who is and is not present for you. You aren't getting condolence cards and no one is bringing casseroles, but you are facing a loss. I certainly experienced this with my husband's dementia.

Boss's book "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" was very helpful to me.

Mourning and anxiety are not mutually exclusive. You could be experiencing both. But try out the idea that this is grief. Be gentle with yourself. Be conscious of your feelings. Perhaps share with one or two trusted friends.

Did you know that the idea of wearing a black armband and other outward signs of mourning was not originally so much about honoring the dead but a caution to others that "this person has recently experienced loss and may be emotionally fragile right now." You have to be strong to be a caregiver, but that doesn't mean you aren't also fragile while watching this slow sad loss. Respect that about yourself.
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