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This is a great forum for active caregivers, but is there anything out there to help with the next phase of life-after-caregiving? I know I could use some help with this transition or just an opportunity to share feelings along the way. This site has been a great support, many thanks.

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I was a caregiver for my husband for many, many years. He passed away 6 1/2 months ago now, and I have found it very helpful to still be actively involved in my local caregivers support group, and this forum as well, to pass along any advice that might help someone else who is still in the trenches of caregiving. I think it's an honor to be able to help those who are in the same shoes I was once in. Wishing you the best as you navigate this new transition.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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cxmoody Mar 29, 2021
You’re a big help. Thank you for passing on what you’ve learned! 😄
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I see your first post was in 2018. So your Days have been full of caring for someone else daily. So now its, what do I do next which is not something you had to ask yourself before. Well, Spring is here so the days are getting longer so more u can do.

Make a list of things you wanted to do that you couldn't before. And do them. Take a vacation. Clean out those closets. Do one big house cleaning. Take walks. Read all those books you haven't been able to. Push yourself. Oh yeah, get that physical you have needed to get and check ups. Its now your time.
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MaryBee Mar 29, 2021
Love your suggestions and pleased to say I have an appointment- for myself!- for a checkup in a few weeks. 😊
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First, my sympathies on your loss.

When my mom died, the first few days were a flurry of activity, between all the notifications, phone calls, funeral planning, etc. After a few weeks, when the immediate things had been taken care of, I found myself sort of feeling like I was walking around in circles - the rigid schedule that we had to keep was suddenly loosened up, and it took some getting used to.

Time will help. Seek grief counseling if you think you might benefit. I found it very helpful to set a sort of "goal" at the beginning of each day - small things that had been overlooked during my caregiving times. Like "today, I'll clean out the coat closet"; "today, I'll vacuum down the stairs" - just small jobs that I knew I could handle. It made me feel more focused and gave me a small feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.

But that's not to say that you need to jump right back into things if you're not ready! I think a common thread of those of us who are caregivers is that we have a difficult time just sitting around when we feel that there is something that needs to be done, and not just when it comes to care giving. So if that's the kind of person you are, maybe try to convince yourself that it's alright to take some time to put your feet up and "smell the roses" so to speak. Especially if you feel like you've been "neglecting" things that you feel are "my job". You have put a lot of time and effort into being kind to and taking care to other people; now is the time to be kind to and take care of yourself.
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MaryBee Mar 29, 2021
I like the small daily goal suggestion. Thanks. I will try to take it as it comes.
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Redefine YOU.
Did you work previously? Would you want to return to working? If not then Volunteer. Lots of places looking for volunteers.
But Take some time for yourself before you get into having to do something.
Learn what it is like to sleep past 6AM, learn what it is like to go shopping without HAVING to get back home at a certain time, learn what it is like to sit and read a book and not be interrupted.
AND..unless you have to break away from the forum keep in contact with this site. You learned a LOT in the years of caring for someone. You picked up tricks, ideas, solutions that worked for you. There are others in the same position you were 2 years, 1 year ago you can pass on what you have learned.
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MaryBee Mar 29, 2021
I will take your words to heart. I used to love volunteering and hope to get back to that sometime. Thanks.
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Sonetimes what i felt was relief after both my mother and stepmother passed. I was care giver for both, starting after my mother's stroke in 2009. It made me feel GUILTY, that instead of crying, I thought at least I have my life back. I was relieved that both were no longer suffering, of course. But able to get a whole night's sleep because I wasn't dreading those late night/early morning calls that someone fell out of bed and did they have my permission to transport to the ER for xrays.

My PCP told me it was OK to feel relief, to be glad their suffering was over. That when my time to grieve came, I would be able to. He told me to Start small, go get a manicure, go to a bookstore and just sit with a cup of coffee and people watch. Get your hair done. Call a friend and go to lunch. Talk to your friends and tell them funny stories about your loved one. Sending a giant Cyber hug to you.
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MaryBee Mar 29, 2021
Thank you Maple!
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For myself, I found that being in a place with happy energy was a way to remind myself of the joys in life. After years of it-keeps-getting-worse caregiving, watching a dog race after a thrown ball or reading near a playground of laughing children was a quick mood booster. I renewed hobbies that had been collecting dust. Best of all, I had time for other relationships that had been on the back burner.

I also spent time going through old photo albums in an effort to remember my MIL as a person, not a patient. That’s something that’s been harder for me.
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MaryBee Apr 1, 2021
I found going through photos before the funeral very therapeutic; it was so good to see her in happier times. I plan a big project to organize old photos in the coming months.
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You’re still grieving. It takes time to adjust. You did so much for her.

Wishing you all the peace and joy that you deserve.
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MaryBee Mar 29, 2021
Ah Need, thanks to you again. I wish you peace and joy as well.
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Yes! It's time to take care of YOURSELF! Give it just as much thought and energy as you gave to your aging parent(s). As the saying goes "Treat yourself".

It helped me to think about expanding my circle in other ways, physically, socially, etc. Two things that I cut back on while caring for my parents were seeing my friends and taking care of my physical body.
An Aunt of mine came to visit my Dad just before he passed and she told me she had bought new xc skis last winter. She's 80. (EIGHTY!)
That was when I realize how much I had given up for myself and my ability to stay active and fit and enjoy life. I just bought a new bike, and am watching yoga, pilates, zoomba and tai chi videos on my computer. As Covid vacs increase I am seeing more friends and doing short day trips to interesting place nearby for small walks or an outdoor lunch/snack.
Your spiritual and mental components need new challenges too. I volunteer for for 3 hours a week now to help out in my community, and it totally feeds my soul, but isn't the daily or exhausting commitment(s) I had with my Mom and Dad. Mentally, I just try to read more and learn more about this great world we live in and how to be a better person.
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MaryBee Apr 1, 2021
I love this, Wendy! You answer is inspiring and so full of good ideas. And your aunt with the skis! Wow, just wow.
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I know what you mean. Mom has been gone for 4 months and I still check to see that my phone is by my bed in case I get a late night call. I see a clothing item and think "that’s something Mom would like." I scan the snack aisle looking for her favorite treat.

It does get easier, I try to remember how happy a Frostie from Wendy's could make her, or her delight in winning at Bingo.
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MaryBee Apr 1, 2021
Four months is not very long. I’m glad it gets easier. Btw my motherinlaw’s name is Frances. 😊
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Your time has revolved around your MIL and you are probably at a loss. Take time for you. Take your time, breathe, relax. What have you always wanted to do and haven't done? Is it a reachable dream, if so go for it.

Continue to give your time to those who follow in your footsteps, support is always needed. Volunteer a few hours of your time to some cause you'd like to support.

You were a good daughter-in-law, you have my sympathies and I wish you peace and joy as you move into the next chapter of your life.
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MaryBee Mar 29, 2021
Thank you CW, sounds like wise advice from a friend who knows.
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