If you are caring for someone who is sick, it’s likely you will eventually endure the death of that person as well. Caregiving is tough and experiencing grief often feels like an extension of that challenge. Here are five tips for survivors of caregiving:
- People often make extremely insensitive comments to the bereaved because they don’t know what they should say. Some people don’t express condolences at all for fear that you will “get upset all over again.” Different generations and cultures express condolences differently. Try to accept that people who care about you are doing the best they can to offer support but very few do it perfectly.
- Know that if your loved one has been sick for a while, you will be grieving along the way. Grief can begin long before your loved one passes away.
- People who love you are looking for cues from you to talk about your loved one. A lot of people who care about you won’t mention your loved one’s name now that he/she has died. Bring up your loved one if you want to talk about him/her. Let people know it’s ok to tell stories and mention your loved one—if it is.
- The grief process is different for everyone. It’s not a straight line. You may feel great one day like you are “over it” but on another day you feel grief acutely. The range of emotions can be startling.
- Friends and family who have not been through the sort of death you’ve been through will not usually understand the way you hope they would. For example, if you have lost a parent and nobody else you know has, you may feel particularly alone. If you are widowed and nobody in your social circle is, that can be isolating. Seek counseling or a support group if you can’t seem to get the support you need from those who love you. For more information on how to find a support group, click here: https://hospicefoundation.org/Grief-(1)/Support-Groups.
Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.