Loss and Grief in Caregiving
Good morning everyone. I hope today, a new weekend, and a new month, brings some goodness to each caregiver everywhere! I send you my best regards and wishes today and everyday.
I have been struggling lately with my grief and the loss of my wife. While I am keeping busy, visiting with family and friends, getting out, and trying to establish what my ‘new normal’ will be in life, I continue to struggle with not only our family’s loss, but also one nagging thought. I am wondering if anyone else has confronted this issue.
It is this: Everything I read on grief and loss gave me two distinct impressions. One was that there were stages of grief and loss, like steps. Most even called them ‘the stages of grief’. Second was that the end of life would be like some movie, book, etc. You know, friends gathered around, smiling, calm, peaceful, angels strumming harps, etc.
Well, in my case, and I admit I may be different than most, which is why I bring this up, neither of those two things were true.
First neither my wife, children, nor I proceeded through those stages of grief. My wife hit on one and stayed there for years. My children (grown) and grandchildren are not processing grief in those supposed steps either. And for me they were basically unrecognizable. Loss continues for the three of us to be overwhelming at times and the triggers are usually small events, but powerful in their ability to effect new equilibrium.
On the issue of loss, I am having a great deal of difficulty getting past the horror of my wife’s last two months of life. Her physical pain was controlled, but that was all. My sleep pattern is still a wreck (I was on a 2-hour med regimen for her for her last three months), I am plagued with nightmares about her last months, and how she looked to me and would beg frequently for me to ‘fix it’ when I could not. I had always been the one to take on her battles and help as best I could until those last days, when it was beyond anyone’s control.
It did not help that we were constantly barraged with (I am sure well-meaning) folks who would tell us over and over either it will end peacefully or that I would welcome her passing. No, it didn’t end well and no I don’t welcome her passing as I know she would have given anything for even one more minute with us.
Grief and loss seem to be more personalized and difficult than anyone actually writes about. Reality might bite, but it beats mythology for caregivers. At least I think so.
I would have preferred to be better prepared for reality than the wishful thinking and one-size-fits-all pontificating offered as what to expect.
Thanks for listening and I’m interested to know if this is just our experiences or perhaps a bit more common than not.
Peace and strength,