The Guilt and the Emotional Journey of Being a Caregiver
Being a caregiver can be physically and emotionally demanding. It is important to remember that the emotions you feel as a caregiver, whether they are good or bad, are valid and important. Some of the feelings that arise as a caregiver happen right away, while others aren't noticeable for a while. Among the rewarding and positive feelings, there can be persistent negative emotions. Caregivers can be reluctant to express these negative feelings, fearing judgement from others. The most important step to take when trying to cope with negative emotions, such as guilt, is embracing the fact that you are in a challenging situation and it is impossible to be perfect 24/7. Here are a few feelings of guilt common among caregivers and tips for overcoming them:
1. I feel guilty for not spending more time with my loved one
If your loved one frequently asks you to visit more often or keep them company more often, it can cause feelings of guilt. It may be hard for your loved one to understand the extent of your other responsibilities. In these moments, it is important to remind yourself that you are balancing many tasks and trying to satisfy all demands will only lead to more stress, which may keep you from making the most of your visits. Focus your energy instead on making your time with your loved one as meaningful as possible. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to consider professional companions who can provide conversation and assistance for your loved one.
2. I feel guilty when I lose my patience
When you are worn out and exhausted, it becomes easy to lose your patience. If you know that you'll feel guilty if you lose your patience, try to consciously notice when you are reaching the end of your rope and take a break when necessary. Taking short breaks or taking a moment to relax can help you stay positive and energized for your loved one.
3. I feel guilty when I take time for myself
Many caregivers feel it is their duty to devote all of their time and energy to their loved one. This is admirable and a sign of love. However, you cannot ignore your own needs forever. The only way to truly sustain the love the care you provide for your loved one is to take good care of yourself as well. Make an effort to sleep well, eat well, and exercise knowing that you and your loved one will benefit.
4. I feel guilty for placing my loved one in a nursing home
Many caregivers begin to wonder if there was more they could have done to keep their loved one at home. These thoughts are normal, but it is unproductive to dwell on the past. Instead, start planning ahead to improve your loved one's daily life in the nursing home. Focus on the future and try to visit your loved one as much as your schedule permits. Additionally, consider bringing decorations and photos to personalize your loved one's room.
The important thing to remember is that these feelings are normal! In each of these instances, you must remember that you cannot be an effective caregiver if you do not take care of yourself. You must stay positive keep your eyes on the future.