Guilt. It is a normal emotion to feel when you are caring for a loved one who is experiencing progressive memory loss. Whether it is your spouse or your mom or dad, you want to help them get better, to take care of them, to ensure that they are happy and have a good quality of life. You feel like you need to do it on your own—but it is hard. It is becoming all-consuming. You are tired and overwhelmed and guilt starts to creep in because you feel that way. You want to ask for help, to find a care facility that can meet your loved one’s needs, but feel guilty for even thinking about it. Your feelings of guilt are getting in your way.
Moving Beyond the Guilt
The first step in moving beyond the guilt you feel is to understand that it is undeserved. You did not cause the illness your loved one is experiencing. You are doing the best you can for them and you are processing a loss that is emotionally challenging.
Cut yourself some slack and realize that by asking for help, you are not giving up on the person. They still need you, but just in a different way than before. They need you to be their advocate and champion. If you are going to fulfill that role, you have to take care of yourself.
Take Time Away
You will be able to face your care situation and decisions if you have a bit of time away from your loved one to clear your head, relax and do some things you like to do.
Find Someone To Talk To
Stuffing your guilt and emotion is proven to cause more frustration. Find a counselor, a friend or dementia helpline to talk through how you are feeling.
Do Not Get Hung Up On How Things Used To Be
You cannot go back, only forward. Acknowledge how things are today and how you can relate to your loved one as they are.
Process Your Feelings of Guilt
You cannot always help the way you feel. Take advantage of some of the many resources out there that can help you work through your guilty feelings and process your grief, such as:
- Dementia Today—Managing Caregiver Grief, Guilt, and Exhaustion
- Family Caregiver Alliance—Grief and Loss
- AARP—Managing Caregiver Emotions
- Alzheimer’s Society—Dealing with Guilt
The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.
~Elizabeth Kübler Ross