Carers’ roles can come to an end when the family member or friend you look after no longer needs your care because they have recovered, moved to a residential or care home or have died.
Whatever the reason for the role ending you may feel lost, disorientated, upset, relieved, guilty and any number of other emotions, including grief.
When the role ends you will need to move forward at some point. Here are four ideas to help you on that journey:
1. Taking a break
First of all, some people can feel so exhausted with the amount they have given physically and emotionally that the only option is to “take a break.”
Taking a break could be as little as sitting in the garden or a park for 10 minutes just noticing the world around you.
It could be time at home with the doorbell unplugged and the phone off the hook to give you quiet time to recuperate.
It could be a weekend away or perhaps even a holiday with a friend.
It could be taking up a new activity, like joining a choir, a walking group, or learning another language.
Each of us needs to decide what we need for ourselves – and that can be really odd and rather scary when we have spent 24/7 considering somebody else’s needs first.
For carers whose family member or friend recovers, “taking a break” is likely to happen over several weeks, months or even years. For those where the role ends suddenly, the impact and need for breaks is more immediate.
2. Dealing with your emotions
There are no set stages for adjusting to a big emotional change, particularly a loss: there is no right way to grieve, although there are plenty of myths about it.
Because emotional adjustment does not follow a smooth process, various things can help you to look back over a month or six months and realise how things have changed:
A journal or diary, which can be audio, video, or written
Seeing friends you have not seen for a while and encouraging them to be honest with you
Tackling difficult tasks that you just cannot face when you feel low
Doing things you enjoyed together but then avoided when you stopped being together