Transition: Moving Through the Void

 

One step at a time…

A transition of any type is rarely easy, as it signals a major life change .  The post titled “Impact on Your Life:  How Caregiving Defined You” discusses the personal impacts your caregiver journey had on your life.  Whether the experience was good or bad, there will definitely be a void to fill.  This is a major transition in your life.

It’s natural to push the inevitable out of your mind.  It’s not pleasant to think about and your instinct is, “I’ll deal with it when it happens.”  There may be a sense of relief when the time comes, however, there will also be many difficult aspects as reality takes hold. This post discusses ways to prepare for the transition before, during, and after it occurs.

BEFORE THE TRANSITION

♦  Keep in touch with friends; don’t isolate yourself.

♦  Stay current with what’s going on around you – in your community, your church, your extended family, the world in general.

♦  Take a few minutes during your quiet times to imagine what it will be like when your caregiving responsibilities are over.  Don’t dwell on the sadness, but rather what it will be like physically and visually.  For example, medical equipment will be removed, so there will be more space, more quiet.

♦  Think of how your days might flow when you have more time for yourself.

♦  Anticipate that you will need time (probably more than you realize) to rest.

♦  Consider what will need to be reorganized, what to do with the person’s personal belongings, what paperwork will be required.  Jot down lists as you think of things to help organize your thoughts and ultimately reduce stress.

♦  Consider who you might turn to for support:  friends, family, clergy, doctor, therapist, support group, etc.

♦  Practice daily devotions, meditation, and prayer to help you stay grounded.


DURING THE TRANSITION

♦  Rest your body.  Rest your mind.  Rest your spirit.  This is a time for reflection, replenishment, and renewal.

♦  Eat nutritious meals.  Avoid or limit alcohol as it’s a depressant.

♦  Realize that you did your best and you were a true blessing to this person.

 ♦  Let yourself feel God’s love and blessings through prayer, meditation, family, friends, church, and periods of rest.

♦  Do not allow guilt over things that could have been done differently to take over your thoughts and mood.

♦  Seek support from the people or groups you’ve already identified.

 ♦  Write the person a letter (even if deceased) if there were things left unsaid that are nagging at you.  Read it aloud, or burn it and think of the smoke as incense carrying your message to heaven.

 ♦  Hold on to all the positive memories and share these with others.  Many people find that keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings during this time aids in the healing process.

 ♦  Forgive your loved one and yourself for any negative incidences. God forgives – how can we do anything less?

 ♦  Put off any major decisions.  For example, realize there is no urgency to sort through their things; wait until you’re emotionally ready to handle it.


AFTER THE TRANSITION

♦  You will feel the weight of grief start to lift.  Now you will be able to look outside of yourself.

♦  Return to work and/or other usual activities.

♦  Consider volunteering at something you find rewarding and satisfying.

♦  Use the skills you’ve gained (patience, compassion, knowledge, organization, etc.) to help others.

♦  Practice good self-care.  Studies have shown that it’s not uncommon for a caregiver to need at least three years to fully recover from the stress associated with the caregiver experience.  (I admit I thought this seemed to be an excessive amount of time, but I have found it to be true.)

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