Caregiving is one of the most difficult challenges we face with family members and loved ones. And while a lot is written about the caregiving role at the beginning of the process, less is written and understood about end of life caregiving.
If you are a caregiver for someone in the final stages of life, the grief can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to continue with the caregiving role 24/7, sometimes adding more tasks than ever before, you also have to face the devastating fact that the end is near.
You go into overwork mode, attempting to do as much as you can. “I can rest after this is over, but I want to do do everything I can while I can” becomes a caregivers motto. Caregivers experience isolation; fatigue. Yet taking the time to rest or even to take a few moments for a long, hot bath lets the guilt filter in.
In most cases it isn’t the tasks that overwhelm; it’s the fear of the unknown. The person you love depends on you like never before. They require nonstop action. You suddenly find yourself in charge of everything – from pain control, to injections, to daily hygiene, to making the toughest of decisions. Our culture keeps the concept of death hidden and out of sight. We know it’s there, yet we simply don’t want to deal with it until we have to.
Not only are we fearful about our own capacity to handle the final caregiving role, we’re also anticipating our greatest fear … the fear of life without your loved one. [Read more…]