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I have been caregiving most of my life. I have helped with the care of 4 siblings, my mother-in-law, my mother and finally my father who died 2 weeks ago of a massive stroke. He died of a massive stroke 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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Give yourself plenty of time to mourn. Be gentle with yourself.

Avoid being isolated. Even if you go out to lunch alone (maybe with a book), you will interact with the waitstaff and the cashier, and be reminded that there is a world out there. Shopping in a thrift store or a posh boutique also gets you out into the world. Eventually you'll want to do a lot of these things with a friend or two, but until you are up for that, just make yourself get out in public.

As others have said, there are lots of opportunities to learn new crafts, see new places, volunteer, re-invent yourself a little or a lot. If you are an avid reader, find a book club to join. But be patient with yourself. You don't have to do everything at once!

Take care of your own health. Set up all those appointments you've missed over the last few years. Check your mental health, too. Mourning is natural. Depression is not and is treatable. Reach out for any kind of help you might need. This is your time!
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Dear Jane,

How are you doing? I am also struggling with this question. I too have been a caregiver most of life. It is hard to know what to do so soon after a losing your father.

My father also passed away four months ago. I am struggling and looking for answers. I have tried to move forward step by step. I think we just need to give ourselves a little more time to figure things out.
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Hi Jane, pretty overwhelming huh? I'm almost at the end of my caregiving (never say never) lol and found myself wondering the same thing when mom went to SNF. I'll give you some of the ideas that I got. First of all, it's not the end of something but the beginning. Try to remember that. It's hard to start over when you look up and realize you've let all your friends go by the wayside, the kids are grown and all of a sudden you're alone. This is a good time to see if there are any classes you might be interested in taking at your local community college, senior center, etc. I went to a silk painting class, an art tour, a glass museum, etc, and just started by talking to people. When was the last time you had a conversation just about what YOU wanted?? There are also groups of all kinds at something called Meetup.com I think. Depends where you live as to how many there might be in your area. Look in the activities section of your paper too. I know it feels weird at first to even step foot out of the house if not for running an errand for someone else, so just start small. Do a take-out dinner of food only you like. Treat yourself to something you like to do. If you can't remember what you like start by just looking at what's out there. Like I said, the newspaper, the college, senior center, community center, even volunteering (not to get stuck in a caregiving situation again, but to meet people) Maybe even go browse little boutique stores or wine shops, whatever, just to get a feel for talking to others and discovering yourself again. Good luck to you, keep us posted as information can help a lot of us that are stuck. Hugs!
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I did not want to post this 4 times. I tried posting it and I kept getting a message about it not posting. This is my first time posting.
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Well, my plan is (and has always been) to hit the road in a small RV. I want to see as much of North America as I have time to see. Not just the typical "tourist". I want time to stay put, enjoy it all, get to really know the area, the people. A visitor.

There are many websites that will help you discover the discoverer in yourself...if you want that.

The opportunities for volunteer work are near endless. The opportunities to continue as a caregiver are growing by leaps and bounds everyday too

Just think about what YOU want to make yourself happy.
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Hi Jane, you've posted 4 times so I guess you really need someone to talk to right now. There are many here who have struggled to find a new life after their caregiving is over and many more of us still in the trenches who worry about it. It sounds like you have been a caregiver for most of your life so it is understandable focusing solely on yourself must seem like a scary new world. Take time to think of things you would like to to that you may have put aside in your years as a caregiver. Some grief counselling might be a good place to start.
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