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Senior Solutions Blog

Caring for Yourself as You Care for Someone Else: Caregiving & Loss

Providing care for a friend or family member can be very exhausting at times. There are physical care needs along with the emotions you feel as you adjust to changes in your friend or family member’s life. With each change, you may experience feelings of loss. Coping with these feelings while you provide care for your friend or family member can be a challenge. Here are some of the feelings you may experience:

Reactions to Loss and Change

  • Guilt

  • Sadness

  • Anxiety

  • Withdrawal

  • Irritability

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Anger/frustration

  • Feeling helpless

  • Change in appetite

Steps for Coping with Loss

  • Talk about your feelings
    Good friends, religious or spiritual care providers or family members can be a good source of support. Reach out to others - this will help reduce feelings of isolation.

  • Join a support group
    Support Groups provide caregivers with the opportunity to share with other caregivers and learn from one another. For those who feel isolated by their caregiving responsibilities, you can join a group by telephone or by the Internet. Local organizations often provide support groups that you can attend in person.

  • Write your feelings down
    Writing or journaling is not for everyone. For individuals who enjoy writing, it can be a wonderful way to express feeling of loss and grief. It doesn’t matter what you write or how you spell — the process of putting your feelings down on paper is what’s most important, not what the end result looks like.

  • Read a book on coping with grief
    There are several books available on the issues of caregiving, self-help, grieving and loss.

  • Get help when needed
    Coping with changes or loss is a lot like adjusting to a broken arm. You may experience pain, and you may need assistance dealing with this pain. You may need help with meeting the demands of caregiving.

    • If available, family and friends can provide some of the assistance you may need at this time.

    • There are also professionals available for hire.

    • The Internet is another resource for finding help nationally and in your community

    • Community organizations are a great resource for various types of help. Local religious organizations and organizations such as your local Cancer, Lung, or Alzheimer Association can help in many ways.

  • Make time for you
    Do what works for you. For some individuals that may mean time spent with friends, family members or participating in a group. Others may need time alone. There are still others who need to spend time doing something. You may need to garden, plant tree, or go for a walk. Do whatever it takes to express your feelings so you continue doing the things that are important to you.