When a loved one passes, we may find ourselves for a time in an unfamiliar landscape with a confusing mix of emotions. We expect to be devastated, but we may also feel relief. Many of us feel ashamed and confused by these raw emotions.
Living with loss after caregiving
Caregiving can be all consuming. We built so much of our lives around taking care of our loved one that when he or she is no longer an active part of our lives, we are left with a gaping hole. The feeling of having nothing of you left after being a caregiver is common.
Caring for a loved one, especially over a long time and under intense situations, can strip away the expectations and lifestyles around which we built our self-esteem and identity. We are left for a time in a limbo that may seem bereft but which is actually a fertile darkness, a time of healing and rebuilding that allows us to take stock of our lives and refuel for the future.
How do we know if our period of mourning is going on for too long? "Too long" depends on the person, who one’s lost, as well as the duration and intensity of caregiving, say professionals. "The path of grief is not a period of time, but a process. People grieve through different stages.
One of the hardest lessons caregivers learn is letting go. It starts with letting go of our previous dreams and expectations. But, at the end, letting go means allowing the one who has died to leave and continue on her journey. "To achieve healing, the grieving person will need to 'let go' again and again in many different ways."