Impact on Your Life: How Caregiving Defined You

THE CAREGIVER’S HEART ~ I designed this mandala early in 2017. It represents the heart of a family caregiver perfectly. There are painful times (small spikes toward the center), rewards (diamonds), being pulled in many directions (hearts leading out from the center and around the perimeter), always giving (crescents leading outward), and a range of emotions (variations in color throughout).

LIFE IMPACT

The impact on your life as a family caregiver should not be underestimated.  You’ve poured your heart and soul into it and given your best.  Whether the person you’re caring for has a dramatic recovery and is able to go on with their life, or the person passes on to eternal life, your role as caregiver will at some point come to an end, and there will be a void to fill.

It’s important to understand what this chapter of your life meant to you.  Give some thought about your caregiving role, how it encompassed so many aspects of your life, and the impact it had on your self-esteem.  

  • It gave you a purpose
  • It gave your life meaning
  • It became a big part of your own identity
  • It kept you focused and active
  • It served as a channel for your expression of love and compassion
  • It gave you the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life
  • It brought you closer to the person, to your family, to God
  • It gave you new knowledge and skills
  • It allowed new insight into your own beliefs and character
  • It brought attention from those around you

Now it’s over.  When the person you cared for was first diagnosed, your grieving process began, whether consciously or unconsciously. Your grieving now takes on new dimensions because you will experience a period of mourning for your role as caregiver. 

Depending on the extent of your caregiving role, you will feel a void, perhaps an all-consuming void.  At the same time, a huge weight has been lifted and you may feel a sense of relief, followed by guilt for being relieved (if the person died).  Conflicting emotions like these are to be expected. Accept them for what they are.

SUMMARY

Your role as caregiver consumes many aspects of your life.  When that role comes to an end, you may feel a sense a relief, but you will also grieve for the important role you played.  There is no right or wrong way to feel.  Everyone reacts differently to loss. Allow yourself to feel whatever your mind and body is telling you to feel, and give yourself time to work through those feelings.  It may take a few years to fully return to your life.  I thought I wouldn’t need that much time to bounce back, but I now realize that it actually does take that long. A transition of this magnitude cannot be rushed.


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