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Dealing with Death as a Caregiver

Death Anxiety and Caregiver Burnout

Caring for a person with a long-term terminal illness comes with a lot of emotional investment. This brings us to the topic of dealing with death as a caregiver. People who find themselves in this situation start carrying the weight of a loss even before the actual death of a person. This is mostly because they watch them die way before they’re gone. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will make things easier when the person does. However, it does in some cases. 

What is Anticipatory Grief?

This is when you start grieving for a loved one way before they are dead. This happens when a loved one is diagnosed with an incurable disease meaning that they aren’t gone yet but death is inevitable. This way, you start going through the emotions of losing them whilst they’re still alive. This is whereby one starts on with the stages of grief. It is common for people dealing with this to experience anger, resentment, and even bitterness since their loved one is going to die and it is out of their power to do anything about it regardless of how much they love them or how much wealth they have to afford medical care. 

How to Deal with Death as a Caregiver

  1. Allow Yourself to Feel the Pain. 

When death comes knocking, you should allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness as it is from it that you allow the 5 stages of grief to take place, especially as a caregiver. In some cases, people who lock themselves out of the reality of things suffer thereafter when their loved one is long buried and everyone else is healing well from the loss. 

When you allow yourself to feel these emotions after their death, there is a lot of available support from others going through the same at that time. Thereafter, people will assume that you have come to terms with your loved one’s loss hence not be fully available to offer you a shoulder to cry on. 

  1. Accept Professional Help

Sometimes what you feel may be beyond everyone else regardless of how much they want to be there for you. What the person meant to you may translate to grief which may be too much to bear especially because you were their caregiver right until their end. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to fully express yourself may be too much for anyone to bear. In this case, it is okay to seek the help of a professional, for instance, a grief counselor.

You will be surprised at how effective and helpful these professionals are. Thereafter, you can join a support group of people who have been in your shoes before. It is here that you can freely talk about your emotions and all that you feel among people who can fully relate. 

  1. Acceptance

This is such a difficult stage of grief that most people often struggle with. Releasing a loved one from your heart and accepting that they have gone away from this world is the most painful thing that anyone has to do. To some extent, one feels as if they are doing the wrong thing by doing so. However, it is quite the opposite. Even though departed, your loved one knows how much you loved and cared for them and would wish to see you happy. Although their passing is difficult, teaching your heart to continue loving them long after they are gone is important. 

Caregivers are more prone to intense grief when a person dies because they were with them during the last stages of their life. Therefore, dealing with death as a caregiver is taken seriously. Remember, talking out your emotions to your friends and family is highly encouraged as it indeed makes the burden of loss lighter. 


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