Care for the Caregiver: 12 Tips for Overcoming Loss, Part 2

Nothing can truly prepare someone for the loss of a loved one. Loss can be especially hard on a caregiver, who invested so much time and energy into caring for that loved one. Caregivers can suffer a great amount of grief and even slip into depression despite having to possibly take care of a loved one’s estate or help with his or her family. Care for the caregiver is important all along their journey of caring for a loved one but especially once the loved one has passed.

Some caregivers at first feel numb and disoriented, then yearn for the person who died. Others feel anxious and have trouble sleeping, possibly dwelling on old disagreements and wishing they could have said more before the passing. Caregivers may have sudden crying outbursts when remembering their loved one. A loved one’s death can even compound problems for a caregiver who experienced caregiver burnout, which is the progression of stresses, physical, emotional, financial, psychological and social, to the point where he or she feels “burned out.”

Dealing with grief is essential in order to come to terms with the loss of a loved one and move forward. While each caregiver deals with loss in his or her own way, there is help on the horizon. In this 2-part series, we’ll be examining 12 insights into grieving from Therese A. Rando, Ph.D. and providing some helpful suggestions.

  1. The circumstances of your loved one’s death will have a profound influence on you. Suggestion: If your loved one died from an illness, develop an accurate appreciation of how illness can affect those left behind, and look for ways to rejoin the world if you had spent much of your time caretaking.
  2. Your grief reactions will not proceed in a fixed sequence, will not necessarily decline consistently over time or be over in a year and will not fail to come up again once they subside. Suggestion: Give yourself permission to have your reactions unfold without automatically thinking you are backtracking if you feel worse after feeling better.
  3. It is a myth that healthy mourning means totally “letting go” of your lost loved one. Suggestion: Discover ways that are healthy and personally meaningful to you in which you can maintain appropriate connections with your loved one, recognizing that others may think this is unhealthy.
  4. Others will not necessarily understand what you are going through or know how to reach out and support you. Suggestion: Ask for what you need from others.
  5. Because children do not respond exactly like adults does not mean they don’t need to be given information about the death, or to be included in the family’s activities and discussions around it. Suggestion: Operate with the knowledge that children do grieve and mourn, and that you need to find the most effective ways to support them.
  6. Many mourners have the wrong notion about what “recovery” means. Suggestion: Look for specific ways in which you can transcend this event. In other words, work to make something good happen out of it.

If you missed the first of this 2-part series, click here to view it. For helpful, interactive caregiver SlideShares, click here, or check out these caregiver resources.

Written By:  | April 26th, 2012

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