Care Giver Fatigue: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My……
He Ain’t Heavy
He’s my brother, my sister, my father, my mother, my wife, my husband, my friend, my son, my daughter, or my dear grandma ……
We love and we lose our loved one. It’s the cycle of life. And, over the years, we also grow weary caring for each other. Many of us feel guilty, angry, irritated, and scared all at the same time. We think to ourselves, “why didn’t you listen to the Dr. 10 years ago? You could’ve prevented this.” Or, ” how come I have to do all the work just because I live close to mom and dad?” Or, “Don’t you remember? You just asked me that question.” Sound familiar? Have you been a caregiver for an aging parent, sick friend, or relative? It’s time intensive. It’s boring. It’s hard watching someone suffer. It’s exhausting. And, Hospitals smell bad. To non-medical people anyway. 🙂
We have busy lives. So busy, we don’t have time to be sick ourselves, let alone care for someone else who’s sick or dying. Yet, our relationships are the most important things in our lives. Money can pay for great health care, but it can’t pay for the richness of our relationships. Investing in our relationships pays huge dividends unknown to the stock market!
Here are a few Tips from the Trail if you find yourself busy, busy, busy this holiday season and suddenly fall sick, or called to someone’s bedside, or are witness to a precious family member taking their last breath.
1. Understand that anger and guilt are part of the mourning process. We all mourn differently. There’s no set time frame or script. Allow yourself and those around you, to mourn their way. I might wail and cry for days. My friend might isolate and get busy or avoid, or need alone time. Focus on your own grieving process. There’s no getting away from or around grief. We must go through it at some point.
2. Feeling these mixed emotions is the next step. It’s how we choose to behave or respond to those feelings that matters. Here’s a simple exercise:
- When you feel a strong emotion, name it and say it. ” I am so sad, or frustrated or angry.”
- Then, in your mind’s eye, place the feeling outside and in front of yourself. See it, hear it, feel it, smell it, and taste that emotion. It can’t own you when you name it and shed light on every aspect of it.
- Now that it’s out in the open, you have control over it, versus it controlling you. When we suppress our strong emotions, they will find their way to the surface somehow. Anxiety is what many of us experience when underneath the surface another strong emotion is boiling like this teapot.
3. We can’t control much in life. One thing we do have control over is our thoughts. Our thoughts inform our feelings, and our feelings drive our reactions and/or behaviors. When you feel anger or guilt, be aware of those feelings. Uncouple the storyline, which is tethered to the feeling. For example: “I am so ticked off at him right now and I feel angry.” Notice the words you connect to the feeling. Kindly tell yourself, “yup, that’s the storyline that feeds the wrong wolf, or adds fuel to the fire. Feel the feeling, breathe deeply for a few cycles, and let go of the words as if they are floating off in a balloon or bubble.
4. If you can’t self-regulate with these Tips from the Trail, consider seeking help. We all suffer from the same human condition… We all need to carry each other at some point in time. Think of it as an emotional tune-up. We all need support and validation during the tough times in our lives.
If you find yourself heavy laden caring for the sick, the widowed or the disenfranchised, please know, you are not heavy my friend, you are my brother.