Bereavement Services in Santa Clara Have Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
Helping a loved one go through hospice and then watching them die is a traumatic, stressful, overwhelming and sad experience — it can even be a relief to those saddled with primary care of a parent, spouse or other loved one. The doctor visits, the treatments, the constant personal care…it can be an unrelenting source of internal struggle with many caregivers who are trying to balance their own lives with care management for another. This can often be a full time job, even with help. But once that loved one passes and the arrangements have been made, you may feel an overwhelming feeling of emptiness as you face a life without the constant busy-ness of caring for another person who so depended on you before.
How do you cope with those strange feelings of emptiness — which some liken to an empty nest syndrome? You rely on bereavement services in Santa Clara to get through.
As we come up on National Caregivers Day, observed on the third Friday in February, we look for ways to honor and recognize caregivers who provide quality, compassionate care every single day. Caregivers do so much for the dying, but not much for themselves.
Tips for Navigating Post-Loss Life
The grieving process is a necessary part of the death and dying process. In fact, as outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, the stages of grief and mourning are universal across all cultures, moving through stages such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, points out PsychCentral. We don’t all go through these in order necessarily, but most of us will experience these feelings at some point after losing someone we love.
But in our grief — which is a completely healthy expression of loss — we must remember to take care of ourselves. It’s human nature to set our own health and well-being aside when faced with the loss of a loved one or even when navigating divorce, job loss or our own serious illness. Taking self-care for granted is common but unhealthy. Such selfless devotion to caring for another person can drain you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, says The Huffington Post. This is because caregivers tend to be so focused on the tasks at hand that they either don’t notice that they are failing to nurture themselves or they consciously put themselves at a lower priority when it comes to self-care. Many put their own happiness, health and emotional stability on the back burner, putting it off for another day. But when?
Instead of putting it off, try these tips for taking care of yourself as you pass through those stages of grief.
- Keep up with healthy eating habits and drink plenty of water.
- Limit the use of alcohol or other substances.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Do your best to maintain normal daily routines.
- Go out of your way to connect with trusted friends or family, even if it takes a lot of effort to do so.
- Reach out for systematic supports such as within your faith and school communities.
- Know when you need help and reach out. Listen to family members who tell you you’re losing too much weight, you seem depressed, you are in a fog. Don’t dismiss them; instead, recognize that you need help and take the steps to get it. Or, let family and friends guide you in the right direction, refer a great therapist, send you a list of support groups in the area, etc.
- Volunteer in your community to regain a sense of purpose.
- Keep up with your own regular doctor visits.
- Exercise every day, even if it’s just to take a walk around your neighborhood.
- Take part in workshops that may be offered by the hospice provider, such as contributing to a memorial garden, journaling, collage making, or healing with nature.
- Set realistic goals for yourself, breaking large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time, advises the Mayo Clinic. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Don’t feel as though you have to say yes to every request, as this can be very draining.
It’s important to remember that while you may have lost a very special person in your life, you are still alive. Choose to embrace that and begin to heal through healthy outlets. It can be especially frustrating for those who cared for a loved one that was not an immediate family member. Even if they had power of attorney for that person, all authority is terminated after death, leaving the caregiver no choice but to give up legal rights to other family members. This can add another layer of grief for family members outside the inner circle.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Pathways Home Health and Hospice offers a variety of bereavement services for caregivers suffering a loss through support groups, workshops, memorial services, counseling and newsletters. Reach out for support and call us at 888-755-7855 today. We can help you through it.