Over a number of years I cared for my late father and then my late mother until her passing around a year ago. As much as I tried for it not to happen, my life became about being a carer. I have one sibling who didn't assist so it was a very intense, unrelenting experience being a carer. I loved my parents very much and am glad I was able to be there for them in their final months and weeks. However, now that they're gone I feel incredibly lost. I expect that's normal as my whole world and existence has shifted, but I am finding it pretty tough to move forward. I went back to work about 6 months after my mom's death and that's helped to give me structure. I feel like not only am I struggling with grief but there is a huge sense of 'ok I can do whatever I want now because I have the freedom to...but I don't know what I want' and that feeling never seems to lift. There's a mountain of sorting out to do with regards to the estate, lawyers and belongings etc. but my feelings of being lost extend beyond the stress of that to 'holy moly what do I do with the rest of my life now?!'. Single, ex-caregiver, mid-30s, not where I want to be but no idea where I want to be either. This is 'normal' right?! I've thought about seeing a therapist to see if I can learn how to work through things. I guess I feel alone and for the first time in years no-one needs me!

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SusanA43. Your situation mirrors mine. It will be 2 years the 29th of June since she has passed. I have not been on the road past the hospital in almost 2 yrs and have no intention of ever going by there again. The NH only pass by because it is on the bus line to the store, otherwise would not pass there either. Single as well not looking. Being alone is not to bad, plus there is the comfortable feeling mom is at peace. 

Ironically the hospital she passed away in sent a flyer addressed to her about dialing 911 and telling EMS to take her to this hospital.  The flyer was promptly marked Return to Sender and mailed.    Things will get better. You just have to believe in that.  
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Maryjane, don't worry about getting "back to normal" for a while. My mother will be gone 2 years in July - and it took me almost a full year to even feel "alive" again, stop trying to turn into the parking lot for the nursing home where she lived the last year of her life, stop thinking "I need to show this to Mom" or "I need to take a picture of that to show Mom" or "Mom would like to see this show", to stop shopping for 2 instead of just myself (I had a full freezer for a very long time)....

There's just so much of your loved one enmeshed in your life when you're a caregiver that it's like losing a child, seriously - you just don't know what to do with yourself for a while. Don't rush. Take your time - even though it's been a year, don't feel like there's some magical date where you should be "over it". Everyone grieves differently. There's no specific date where it just magically ends. You will miss your parents forever - but over time, the hurt will be a little less...and a little less...until you remember them fondly and without so much pain from their passing.

As to getting back to normal, take that slow too. If there were hobbies you enjoyed prior to caregiving, see if you can pick one of those back up again. If you enjoyed traveling, start out slowly taking a day trip here or there to a favorite destination.
Do you like volunteering? See if there's something you can do along those lines.

The whole first year after my mother passed away was kind of a blur. I was going through the motions of life but not really "living". I just felt lost. I finally slowly started coming out of it during this 2nd year after her passing and stopped feeling like I should keep everything as she had it. I've made some changes to the house and yard, made them more "me" while still keeping small bits and pieces of Mom around - like her rose bushes. I've started volunteering at a local animal shelter and traveling - doing both at the same time by transporting cats from one shelter to another so they can be adopted out instead of put to sleep when the local shelter gets too full. So I drive them 3 hours to a meeting spot where someone else picks them up and makes the rest of the trip to the new shelter. I feel good about that - it gets me out of the house and satisfies what Mom called my "itchy traveling foot" (she had one too, I guess I come by it honestly), and I'm helping a local charity and the animals too.  This also satisfies that need to feel needed by someone.  The animals need me to do this so they don't get put to sleep. 

I bet if you think about it, you might find something you used to enjoy doing that you could start doing again, in some small measure. I'm also single, though a bit older than you, but I don't feel the need to be involved with anyone at this point at all. I'm just happy being alone. No responsibility or accountability to anyone but myself.
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I think change is hard. I never really liked change. and I never expected "change" that wasn't in my control. I guess as a young person, I figured whatever happened was because I made it happen. then as I got older, life surprised me. and sometimes it wasn't always good. things happened that I felt I had NO CONTROL. (duh)

and its scary. and even tho its caused me anxiety at times. it seems the best way for me to cope (beside eating cheez-its) ---is being thankful for even small things makes me feel better.

I think its great that you were able to go back to work! remember even if you don't have a plan RIGHT NOW. sometimes things just happen. who knows what your future holds!

it takes time to adjust to change. I hope you find good things happening as you move forward.
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Maryjane, your self questioning is I think normal after having cared for someone for a long time. Your life changed, now i's abruptly changing again. Seguing from a mode of focusing on others to focusing on yourself isn't always easy, and can be accompanied by feelings of guilt b'c now you have only yourself (or other family members, including children, if there are any) about whom to be concerned.

A poster with a screen name of BloomSchool has written quite eloquently about his experience. Here's a list of his posts.

Begin with the first and follow his journey, and especially see the path he's taken and the results of self examination as posted in his most recent thread.

As many of us told Bloom, there's no need to make decisions now. You still have estate management issues to handle; focus on them while you're evaluating options. That gives you time to make decisions, although you don't need to if you're comfortable in your job and prefer to just maintain a sort of status quo as you address long term options.

Look back to what you were doing before being a caregiver. What were your plans? Did you go to college? Want to? What were your career plans? Consider that they were interrupted, but can be resurrected while you're in the estate management mode and more easily thereafter.

The big question now, is what DO you want to do with your life, and how do you determine that, which might really start with your plans before caregiving?
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You are not alone. Many exams caregivers feel the same. All I can suggest is give it time it will get better. If you still feel the need to be the wanted volunteer at a food pantry
You will be helping others and can lend an ear when they want to tell you their stories.
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