My father passed away in 1969, I was 17. For the past 4 1/2 years, I was my mom’s full-time caregiver as she advanced through the stages of dementia. She passed away the 16th of last month. It is a peculiar feeling to no longer have at least one parent here, even one that did not define what a parent actually is because of an illness, but none the less they were still your parent, and still present.
I have spent all this time quite isolated and alone as I have cared for her. My husband has been the only real constant help or support, but he had to be gone most of the time to work. I had no help from brother(s), both sisters died years ago. Now, with mom gone, and my new life, or is it my old life, is unfolding each day, I am feeling more alone then before, abandoned even by the hospice people who didn’t even offer grief support counseling.
I have done, and continue to do, a lot of writing since 2006. I have 3 blog sites I work on about caregiving, during and after it, 3 twitter accounts, a facebook, I am involved with another caregiving website, and I have my own Blog Talk Radio show on caregiving, so these things have been my “salvation” through the years of caregiving.
They help to keep my busy now too, but there is a gap, a incompleteness, a void, in my day, my moments of the day. Their is so little offered or even written about life after caregiving. A fish out of water? A fish swimming up stream, against the current?
It is a struggle each day no matter how I try to define it. Going places, doing things with my husband or others, foreign to me, hard to relax, hard to enjoy them. In the back of my mind is always, I have to get back, have to do this, have to do that…for mom. Hard to reprogram! So, I continue to write, to blog to share, just like I have been doing these past years, but can’t find that place in it all that really helps me enter into my new life with strength and confidence…at least not yet.
Footnote: I have been thinking about the adult orphan term and how the thoughts and feelings that it brings to me, are intertwined with those that grew as a result of my years as a caregiver, and now with those of the after caregiving life. It is quite a complex bag. Denise asked me Thursday during our grief support chat session on here, which is easiest to eliminate, that is when I said they intertwine. I really don’t know how to separate them. There appears to be separate healing processes to go through for each one.