When you work as a carer, you develop a special bond with the individual/s you care for. This bond is different than that of a family members or friends, and when carers grief and loss occurs, the grieving process can be quite different.
Unlike other experiences of loss, the losses associated with a caring role may not have a definite starting or finishing point for a carer’s grieving process.
This loss may be unrecognised and unacknowledged by those around you (and maybe even yourself), but can have a great effect on your feelings, physical health, mental well being and much more.
Signs of grief
After a loss, you may feel there is no time to think or feel deeply and that you have got to keep on going. You might even feel confused or uncertain of how to grieve. This can make it hard to recognise your grief.
After loss, you may experience a range of physical and emotional signs commonly associated with grief, such as:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Feelings of numbness and despair
- Changes in sleeping patterns (such as inability to fall asleep, insomnia)
- Changes in eating patterns (such as loss of appetite)
- Feelings of sadness, anger or rage
- Feelings of resentment toward the person being cared for or others around you
Everyone deals with loss differently, however, it is important you allow yourself to grieve either at the time of loss or shortly after, or else the feelings can remain bottled up inside causing deep-rooted emotional problems.
Dealing with carers grief and loss
It is important to deal with the loss and grief, and to deal with it in your individual way. It may be scary to begin acknowledging grief, but it is important to your physical and mental well being.
Ways to help manage your feelings:
- Join carer support groups – They provide the opportunity to talk to people who understand the unique grieving process carers go through.
- Attend workshops and information sessions – They can help you understand your loss and give you helpful strategies to prepare for and deal with loss.
- Talk to family, friends, and service providers – Talking can help you let go of some of the pressure that has built up inside.
- Look for support within your carer organisation – They are well prepared to support you through in these situations.
- Contact telephone counselling services – There are a number of free telephone services available 24/7 where you can speak confidentially with trained professionals.
- Engage with a local counselling service – There are many local services that offer grief and loss counselling to support carers.
Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth, Western Australia
Web Address: www.visioncounselling.com.au
Published: 26/05/2016 “Bereavement”, (Carers Trust), Available: http://www.carers.org/help-directory/bereavement (Accessed: 2015, February 12).
“Carers and Grief – It’s Complicated”, (Respite South), Available: http://www.respitesouth.org.au/node/2565 (Accessed 2015, February 12).
“An Unrecognised Grief: A Carer’s Guide”, (Carers Victoria), Available: http://www.carersvictoria.org.au/file-assets/publication/unrecognised-grief-carers-guide/ (Accessed: 2015, February 2015). Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club