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Caregivers: Stop The Guilt

Date : March 5, 2017
Caregivers need relief from guilt
Caregivers and Guilt

Caregivers are riddled with guilt and no matter how good they are at the job, it’s a daunting task to avoid it.

A recently retired client of mine, whose husband was newly diagnosed with cancer, entered my office this week, completely frazzled and distraught. Not only was she upset by the recent diagnosis, but in a few short weeks, she had become his full-time caregiver.

She drove him to his numerous doctor’s appointments, helped him with chemotherapy treatments, consoled him and cleaned him, when he struggled with the side effects of the medication, cooked and carried on with all the household chores ~ and all the while, maintained a ‘positive attitude’ to be sure to keep his spirits high.

But inwardly, she began resenting him. She felt that there was no time for herself. All her plans were on ‘hold’ and she was exhausted, angry and filled with guilt because of it.

“I hate myself for being so selfish. I shouldn’t be feeling like this. After all, he’s the one who’s sick, not me.”

Every person, whether they are sick or not, has a right to their own feelings and caregivers are no exception. No one can be a caregiver 24/7 without burning out or feeling resentment.

So, if you’re in a similar situation, here are a few simple guilt free solutions to keep in mind:

Tips for Caregivers

 Do something for yourself each day: Take a leisurely hot bath; a trip to the mall; plan lunch dates with friends, or simply go out for a walk. Small things make a big difference.

Call a friend: Air your concerns to relieve your pressure, but the objective is to change your thoughts, not to complain about the situation. Talk about elevating things to change your mind-set.

Get support. Ask a friend, a neighbor or family member to relieve you for a short period. If necessary, hire someone to spend time with your loved one. Do whatever it takes to have some down time for yourself.

Be honest about your feelings. Care-giving is hard work. Don’t hide the facts that you’re concerned, upset, worried or hurt. Acknowledge to each other that this is a difficult time for both of you. It’s unrealistic to be positive or up beat all the time. ( A caregiver support group can be helpful as well).

Being a full time caregiver is a daunting task but don’t feel guilty if you take a break. You need one. When you have some time off, not only will you be less resentful of the difficult job that confronts you, but you’ll also be a more compassionate care-giver as a result.

More information on guilt here.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation as my client? How do you relieve the stress of care-giving?

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Written by

Beverley Glazer MA., ICCAC., is an insatiable optimist, who in addition to coaching and empowering women to unleash their personal and professional strengths, is a therapist, addiction specialist, speaker and consultant, for over 26 years.