When I learned that this week’s  Five Minute Friday Linkup prompt is GRIEF, I thought I’d share this section of a longer post I’ve been working on. You can find the full post on my Confessions of a Caregiver page.  I recently spent time exploring and writing about some of the serious challenges caregivers face, myself included. Among them, anticipatory grief. I hope this will help others who may be in the midst of it.

Excerpt from Confessions of a Caregiver Episode 11 – Preparing for a Hard Winter

Then there is grief. You might think my person is living. Why are we talking about grief? That comes later, right?

Some days I feel like I have nothing to look forward to, especially when I realize that the only way this ends is through loss and grief. Try wrapping your mind around that one and moving on with your day.

“Grief does not wait for death to happen; it occurs both in anticipation of and following a loss. Extended illness, disability, severe accidental injury, a terminal diagnosis or the aging and decline of an elderly family member can produce what is known as anticipatory grief and mourning. We find ourselves reacting and continually adapting not only to an expected loss, but to all the losses – past, present, and future – that are encountered in that experience.

Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

I miss my mom already. And I wonder why I can’t slow down long enough to find a way to spend more time with her while I still have her. There’s always a “next thing” to do, and it seems that’s what I choose to do instead. I don’t understand why I allow distractions to take me away from her.

Someday, I’ll regret doing that thing instead of sitting with her and tenderly holding her hand.

I miss my life. What it was, what it can’t be today, or maybe never will. My life wasn’t a whirlwind of excitement before, but it was mine. With only one adult child left at home, my husband enjoyed more freedom with our time and how we spent it. Now, it seems like I’m watching it pass in front of us, like a parade that we can’t join in.

I miss friends, family, and the things I enjoyed doing. Things like taking walks, going for bike rides with my husband, getting away for a vacation, lunch with friends, facilitating bible study at church. They don’t happen very much anymore, if at all.

Isolation can become a part of the caregiver’s life (not yours, I hope). Friends love you, but they may not wait for you. Your loved one’s needs often take precedence over your own, leaving you mentally and physically unavailable for others.

The unhappy truth I’m avoiding here is that for many caregivers, the only way it ends is when someone leaves. Grief, then, will no longer be anticipated but very present in a different form.


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