Is there life after caregiving ends?
We will work through the grief.
We will make the transition from caregiver.
And, we can find our next goal and purpose for life.
As long as we draw breath we have a future, a reason, and a hope.
|Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room|
By Dorothy Gable
- You’re still alive so you have a life to live – choose to live;
- The grief will grow less intense and frequent as you work through it;
- You made the right decision to stand by your loved one during their darkest hour – don’t let anyone minimize your actions or call it a waste;
- The lessons you learned and character strengths you developed will help you handle the next phase(s) of your life.
Never regret and never let anyone minimize the value of staying by your loved one to the end. Just think about what you have accomplished – helping your loved one, day after day, live well with dementia , staying by their side until they passed on to eternity. We should never regret taking up the cross of serving our loved ones in their darkest hours.
Do not be discouraged if a sudden flood of emotions and grief appear. While some may work through their grief, little by little as they help their loved one through their decline, others kept this bottled up to get through their days. Working through the grieving process can be hard, lonely work, but it will lessen. Someday you will find yourself able to reflect on their passing with fond regrets and nostalgia instead of paroxysms of grief.
Take it one day at a time; moment by moment. You might have to make decisions concerning their estate and their funeral (if these decisions had not been settled beforehand). Do the next thing, not looking too far ahead. Eventually, when you are ready, begin to map out your future.
Follow up with some of your plans that had been put off. Watching our loved ones go through dementia not only taught us to live in the moment, but also to utilize the opportunities before us. Take that class; plant that garden; visit the grandkids in Oregon; or seek out those friends.
Do not allow comments from others to cause you to doubt the value and wisdom of the sacrifices you made to help your loved one. Our faithfulness to each other demonstrates our humanity, proves our love, and presents a path to others to do likewise. Perhaps your example might encourage someone else to make those hard choices.
We will never forget the lessons we learned.
Having to reach past the dementia to communicate with them taught us to be more aware of others’ emotions as well as their words. The dementia forced us to live in the moment.
Too often we race through life, seeing mostly our future while missing today. Let us not forget to watch the sunset, study a butterfly’s path over the flowerbed, or feel the sun’s rays warm our face.
Let us remember to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously, forgive ourselves, and move forward. Remember, some of the worst insults they said to us was the dementia talking.
They want us to go on with our lives, and we can live well after the caregiving.
Some helpful articles from the Alzheimer's Reading Room –
Alzheimer's Disease and the Five Stages of Grief
Grief and the Emotional Evolution of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver
How to Deal with Never Ending Grief
Lessons I've Learned During My Time As An Alzheimer's Caregiver
After the Caregiving Ends - The New York Times
My Story – Dorothy Gable
My mother, Edith had four daughters and I was in the perfect position to be the primary caregiver for her after Dad died. She lived with us at first, but seeing this was not working for her or us, we found an excellent assisted living facility near our home that provided a safe nurturing environment for Mom as she passed through all the dementia stages.
Having understood I could grieve the losses as I experienced her decline, I worked through some of my grief before she died. I had to lay aside nagging questions that I had not made the right decisions and realized I had done the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time. Now that I am researching dementia I have a better understanding of what Mom went through with her dementia. She had been a gregarious, outgoing professional registered Dietician. Her desire to help others continued throughout her life, even during the dementia.
What about after caregiving? After passing through the transition stage I struggled to find my place again. Circumstances (a lay-off and having to move for work) provided the opportunity to create a book to help and encourage other caregivers. We remember for them; advocating for them when they cannot speak up for themselves.
I never regret stepping forward to help my mother live well with dementia.
Dorothy Gable lives in Dubuque, Iowa, and she is working on a book to help caregivers navigate the dementia maze – Navigating the Dementia Maze for the Christian Caregiver. You can read about her book and learn more on her website - www.navigatingdementiamaze.com
You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room