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I have been a caregiver for most of my life. I have helped in the care of 4 siblings, my mother, mother- in-law and finally my father who died 2 weeks ago from a massive stroke. He died at home with hospice care. He also had dementia.
I need to mourn my father and find a new life for myself.

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Huge hugs to you. And hugs again.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Are there people around to console you?

Not in the same way, but I realised too that I had spent all of my adult life taking care of other people. Suddenly not being responsible for another person's welfare explodes a massive hole in your life, and it's really, really hard. You're in free fall, just when grief and exhaustion make you least able to cope with it.

Be kind to yourself, give yourself time, and then when you're ready look around you and see. You don't have to find one big thing to do, and you almost certainly won't find anything that seems important enough to fill the vacuum - but that doesn't mean that nothing is worthwhile. Look for little things that are useful or fun in some way, for yourself or others, and gradually get used to having the freedom to please yourself.

Don't expect too much too fast; but maybe mark a couple of milestones in your calendar - one month, six months, a year and so on - and if you find yourself struggling more than you think is proportionate, get help, don't go under.

Please do keep coming back and let us know how you're feeling. More hugs.
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jane,
youll have a lot of time for yourself now and you no doubt deserve it . do something you used to love . for me it was my canning hobby . drinking everclear and chopping tomatoes --
man , thats livin ..
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Contact Hospice. they have bereavement groups and counselors.
If you belong to a church see if they have a bereavement group.
Take time for yourself.
If you found care giving rewarding is is something that you might want to do either as a volunteer with Hospice, you can go into a patients home and relieve the caregiver for a few hours so they can run to the store or just take a break. Or as a paid position there are MANY people looking for experienced caregivers and privately you could make $15.00 to 20.00 an hour.
In the mean time plan a vacation. Get away, take a cruise or get into the car and point it in any direction and drive. You have earned it.
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JaneCA: Whether you realize it or not, you've already answered your own question! You're a volunteer on AgingCare.com!! You've found your job or "what to do" after caregiving! Because you've seen it all, heard it all and done it all, who better than to give advice than you on this site!
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My mom use to say to me "what are you going to do with all your free time, when you don't have me to look after any more?" And I'd think "yeah, right" as I'd picture the softball size balls of dog hair swirling under my dining room table or look at my narled up, old lady feet, or picture the stack of books next to my bed. Moms been gone almost two months now and getting jump started back to my old life has been harder than I imagined. Of course, I'm executor of the will and that's taking up some of the time but more often than not I find myself mainly doing restless pacing - starting half a dozen things but finishing none before I get restless and move on. Like everyone says - there's no rule book or strict timetable but sometimes I think it's important to push yourself to be "normal" again. For my normal - I've painted my toenails once, baked a batch of cupcakes- which turned out awful - lack of practice? Gone to see one movie and bought a fashion magazine- although I've yet to look at it. So, it's baby steps for me but I'm making more of an effort - my hubby and son deserve that - and actually, so do I. So do you!
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continued...

Dr. Vamik Volkan, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia medical school, said, ''The recognition of the actuality of the death is a crucial event in the course of mourning.'' Dr. Volkan's method of ''re-grief'' therapy is intended to help those who suffer pathological grief.

Dr. Volkan's approach makes use of a common phenomenon in those with problems in mourning: the possession of a special object that links him to the dead person, such as piece of jewelry. These links are more than just treasured keepsakes; they are jealously guarded and hold an eerie fascination for the mourner.

These objects, Dr. Volkan said, are symbolic tokens jointly ''owned'' by both the mourner and the deceased person; it is a way of keeping the dead person ''alive.''

Because the person with this kind of grief is in a chronic state of hope that the dead person will return, Dr. Volkan at some point asks the mourner to bring in the linking object and explore its symbolic meanings.

This typically allows the mourner to face the fact of the death. This, Dr. Pollock said, ''can activate the mourning they haven't completed.''

Study of Normal Mourning Process Illuminates Grief Gone Awry
By DANIEL GOLEMAN
Published: March 29, 1988 in the New York Times
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Jane- you have my heartfelt condolences. My mentally ill mom passed 2 weeks ago. I cared for her in one way or another almost my entire life. This is a very sad time for both of us. Read what you can about grieving and allow yourself the time to grieve. Take care of yourself first and foremost. Therapy/counseling can be very helpful. It has been for me. If you need someone to talk to this group is so good. With you in spirit at this very sad time. ❤️
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I am in the same situation myself. My dear Mom passed away from a major stroke September 30. I feel empty and guilty contemplating a new life. She left me secure for life, but I never wanted it this way! I'm grateful she didn't suffer, but I had to make the DNR decision and even though its what she wanted, I am just heartbroken. I want my Mom!
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I fully appreciate what you're going through and wish that I had a clear cut answer on how to deal with the "aftermath". My Mom had Parkinson's and I was her carepartner/caregiver for 13 years, the last 5 were 24/7, until her death 10 months ago. In the last year I've lost 6 of my family, the most recent just this past Tuesday. I am alone for the first time in my 67 years and adjusting to that along with losing Mom is very, very difficult. The advice others here have given is what I'm doing...taking time, all the time I need, to get back the mental, physical, and emotional strength that was used up by caregiving. As much as you love the person and are willing to do for them, it takes a heavy toll that others don't understand unless they've done it...and even then experiences differ. So, JaneCA, all I can add is an "Amen" to what's been said here already...just take it a day at a time and let no one push you beyond what is best for you. We can't undo years of stress in a few weeks/months...and we don't have to! My best to you.
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I hope this doesn't sound trite - but do you like dogs? After your years and years of having someone to care for, I imagine the emptiness must feel vast. Having a new puppy or an adult rescue dog could help fill that hole a bit and in return for your efforts you'll have a devoted companion who never complains and offers unconditionally love. Looking after a new four legged friend will give some purpose again and even force a little outdoor exercise. Personally- taking one of my dogs out for a long walk on a cool, crisp autumn day, the quiet company and gratitude of a wagging tail - it often can put me in a zen-like state of mind.
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