“My friends want me to go out with them, I need to find a job, and my home is a disaster. It’s been 6 months since my partner passed on. I was so busy taking care of him, lots of things just didn’t get done. I’m far behind on home maintenance, car maintenance, my own doctor’s appointments and tests, managing what’s left of our money, and more. I have lost my purpose in life and I am overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done to get back to normal, whatever that is. But I don’t seem to have my strength back yet.”
–a recovering family caregiver
This story of life after her partner passed on might have been my story after my Dad passed. It’s a story I hear over and over, no matter what the friendship or family relationship was between caregiver and the loved one needing care. In addition to their grief, family caregivers often need a period of recovery after their caregiving responsibilities are done. Not only are they grieving, but they also need to repair their lives and often their well-being after 6 months, 6 years, or 16 years of selflessly putting their loved one’s needs first.
There is a gap, an unmet need, for family caregivers. End of life care, focused on the patient, may at best support the family caregiver’s grief process. But former caregivers also experience a life transition, with unique challenges and needs. How can caring professionals in healthcare, social services, eldercare, and pastoral care best serve former caregivers as they recover and return to well-being, body, mind and spirit?
I am a nurse and a recovered family caregiver. I took care of my husband, my mom, and my dad. I would do it again without question. And yet, I recognize that it took a lot out of me.
I am now committed to sharing this original work with former caregivers and with caring professionals through this blog and through workshops. My hope is that a lot of people will be benefit from this information. Unfortunately, former family caregivers enter this life transition with little resilience for healing and personal growth. Please help them along their way.
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