There are millions of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. most of them are family members. For many people who spend all or part of their day taking care of the needs of someone else it is easy to be consumed by the task.
No matter how much you think you have prepared yourself for the inevitable loss of the person you are caring for - you can not anticipate how you will feel. Writing in the AARP Bulletin Mary Helen Berg quotes one Sylvia Brown who spent 13 years caring for her mother as saying "it’s like a huge hole, or vacancy, or void in your life, the feeling is, Now what?”
Because caregivers put so much of the own lives on hold. When those duties suddenly end, the caregiver is left not only grieving but also processing new emotions about their own station in life."
The article includes some excellent recommendations:
Don't let isolation overcome you
It may sound obvious, but it is also essential: Stay busy to fight loneliness and depression. Find that thing that gives you purpose.
You'll experience some unexpected emotions
The range of emotions that emerge after the death of a loved one can take caregivers by surprise, says C. Grace Whiting, CEO and president of the National Alliance for Caregiving. Sadness is common, of course, but so are frustration and anger. And guilt. Ex-caregivers often feel a sense of relief that their difficult duties are over. And then they feel shame about feeling that way.
The hard part may come later
For some people the time of adjusting to your new life takes longer then you might think.
Put off the big things
Give yourself time to make changes - this is a time to remember slow and steady
It is OK to move on
Remember that you have done this caring job lovingly and treat yourself with extra patience and kindness as you adjust to life without the person you cared for.