Share this:

To paraphrase Lady Macbeth: "Out, out damn guilt!"

Posted by @IndianaScott, Apr 9, 2017

Guilt has no place in caregiving, but know this — it will be with us anyway.

The other day I was in the grocery store and noted an item with the words ‘guilt free’ in its name. With a smile I said to myself “I wish there had been a ‘guilt free’ version of caregiving!”

During the 14 years of my being my best half’s fulltime caregiver there was one thing ever present in my life besides the needs of my wife. It was guilt.

Unfortunately guilt and caregiving often go hand-in-hand.

It was always there. I am sure many of you caregivers reading this have experienced this as well.

There is the guilt from not having enough time. There is never, ever enough time in a day to meet all the needs thrust upon a caregiver.

There is the guilt from not knowing what you should actually be doing at times. As I have said often, caregiving was the toughest job I ever took — and there was no employee manual nor training. It was just jump in and just try not to drown!

There is the guilt from exhaustion. Many nights I felt overwhelming guilt when I would ‘take five’ on the sofa only to wake hours later with the house lights ablaze, the dirty dishes still in the sink, untouched laundry piles, and remembering I had never had the two minutes it takes to get the mail.

There is the guilt from the conflicting demands of caregiving and work. The needs of my wide were paramount to me. My boss at my job felt her demands were of more importance. The conflict was unavoidable as was the intense guilt this produced.

There is guilt laid on you by others – some unintentional, some not. I know much of the guilt others laid on me was unintentional when they were simply trying to make me feel better. However, every time someone told me to “take care of yourself”, but offered no help to do so, the guilt set in. Then there were the intentional comments from those who knew little to nothing about our situation, but felt entitled to chime in and tell me I was doing something the wrong way.

There is guilt from noticing, day and night, the piles of laundry, dust bunnies skittering across the floor, gathering dust, and the backroom jammed with those things you don’t have the time to put anywhere else. Out of sight out of mind was my pattern!

There is the guilt from not having the skills to do all needed by your patient. The big and the small. In the small category I always felt guilty I could never brush my wife’s hair well enough to get it into as smooth a ponytail as she could in the old days. In the large category I always felt guilty that I was continually far too clumsy when changing her pads, bedclothes, and linens.

There is the guilt from the anger that creeps into your thoughts. Exhaustion, pressure, and sadness often lead to feelings of anger.

There is the guilt from the unmet needs of others, which you are forced to lay by the wayside. In my case it was not being able to give our children and grandchildren the amount of time and attention they deserved from their dad and grandfather.

My defense against this guilt was a mantra of saying to myself “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’”.

May your caregiving day be guilt free!

REPLY

I feel guilt everyday. I work full time then I come home to caregiving duties. I always feel like I am not doing enough that I am missing something.

@book8

I feel guilt everyday. I work full time then I come home to caregiving duties. I always feel like I am not doing enough that I am missing something.

Jump to this post

Good morning @book8 I have a really big garbage can right here so send your guilt and I will see that it makes it to the nearest landfill and is buried nice and deep!

Sending strength and peace!

@IndianaScott Hi Scott: When I read this post I was struck by your comment, “there was no employee manual nor training.” I came to realize that in many of your posts you are creating just that. You are providing caregivers with a manual to work from and this manual helps them to approach their care giving with realistic expectations, the importance of self-care and the realization that you can’t do it perfectly! Thanks for what you are doing for our care giving community on Mayo Connect. Teresa

@book8

I feel guilt everyday. I work full time then I come home to caregiving duties. I always feel like I am not doing enough that I am missing something.

Jump to this post

Thank you for your kind words and advice. I feel so alone sometimes. A little background information about me, I have been my mom caregiver for two years now. My mom is
a lot better now then two years ago and she helps me as much as she can. The mental toll on me is tough, I have become the biggest worry wart; always worrying about her medical issues. Then worrying about my job from taking off for my mom medical appointments, the list of worries is never-ending. It helps to know I am not alone since I found this group. Thank you.

@book8

I feel guilt everyday. I work full time then I come home to caregiving duties. I always feel like I am not doing enough that I am missing something.

Jump to this post

Hello @book8 I’m so glad that you were able to express your feelings and get “them on the table.” You are trying to balance many things in your life and it is not easy, is it? Keep sharing with Mayo Connect. Teresa

Please login or register to post a reply.