Young Widow Forum

Specific Situations => Extreme Caregiving => Topic started by: arneal on April 30, 2016, 10:57:54 PM

Title: How to be former caregiver
Post by: arneal on April 30, 2016, 10:57:54 PM
My husband lived with congestive heart failure for 17 years. Whenever we saw his primary doctor, she would say hevwas a miracle because people don't tend to stick around for that long. He had a pacemaker, was a prostate cancer survivor for almost nine years, had been intubated after a severe infection last spring, had kidney issues and fistula surgery last fall, and was going for pericentesis every week for about two months. He was feeling more poorly than usual, went to hospital, was diagnosed with the flu on top of everything else, and didn't come home. In an instant, I went from full-time work outside the house to stay at home worker, primary wage earner, and caregiver to widow.

I am taking care of myself as best I can; I have to pay my own insurance so it's tough on the budget and I don't go to the doctor much to avoid the copay. However, as has been said on a few other threads, I have mourned for years now. I am happy that my Christopher is not in discomfort or sick anymore and that he is with God, but I am sad and lonely without him. I am irritated at him because he had once said that he didn't want me to be alone if he were to go and I scoffed at the idea. Now that I am not filling the wall calendar with trips to the doctor and juggling my work around them, I find myself pondering the potential of trying to connect with someone. But I feel too ... scarred? empty? exhausted? afraid? I am not particularly social in that I am very much an introvert. My husband understood and accepted that about me. It's hard to think there is anyone else could.

Is it typical to feel so conflicted after caregiving ends? My first husband died suddenly so this is my first experience with caregiving.
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: Portside on May 01, 2016, 08:39:42 AM
Arneal - I found myself in a similar situation. My late wife’s illnesses forced me to balance work, taking care of the house, raising the kids and caring for her all at the same time. It was a nightmare, as you know.

After she died, a good friend of mine remarked, “You must be so terribly busy now.” In point of fact, I was not – I was already taking care of the kids and doing everything else. With the time required to care for my wife now freed up, I had all kinds of spare time – compared to what it was previously.

To fill my feeling of emptiness and allay my fear, I forced myself to get out of the house and try new activities and made a concerted effort to make new friends. I don’t think I am quite as introverted as you describe yourself but it was still difficult to make myself go out alone to have a meal or show up by myself at a meeting or event. But I did it as I knew I had to build a new life with the emphasis on ‘build’. No one else could do it for me.

I’m certain doing so helped me overcome the negative feelings you described rather quickly and helped me to regain my footing and rejoin the human race.

Good luck and best wishes - Mike
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: ManutesGirl on May 01, 2016, 06:44:24 PM
Yes, it is normal to feel conflicted after being a caregiver.  Just remember, no decisions have to be made today.  Give yourself time to figure out what you really want to do.  If you want to date that's great, if not that's great too.  And some people date and then decide they aren't ready and that's ok . 
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: arneal on May 01, 2016, 08:07:47 PM
Thank you both. I think it was just the emptiness of the day ... today marks officially three months. It's strange but I agree with you, Mike -- I am so appreciative of the gym because I have met some great new friends there, people who are supportive about life in general, not just because I am a widow. I haven't gone out like to a restaurant alone yet (probably because I am doing this boot camp at the gym  ;D) but since I am an only child anyway, I think that will be okay. I also know of a widow in the neighborhood and I am thinking of calling her to go have coffee or something one day this week.

I think about what dating would be like, but I am learning to live for me again. The rest will come in due time, as God wills. No worries (well, maybe a few  :D).
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: Wheelerswife on May 01, 2016, 09:26:51 PM
I don't know if the caregiver in me ever left me.  I was a caregiver for my first husband for 18 years and a physical therapist for 26 years.  My first husband has been gone over 6 1/2 years.  I still tend to be someone who looks out for people, though.

I also found that after my first husband died, I had so much time on my hands that I didn't know what to do with myself.  I found, though, that the first 4 or 5 months were spent heavily grieving and sad and taking care of me was what I needed to do.  I found the precursor to this board and lived on it, too.

Hang in there.  Hopefully, we all find ourselves again in due time.

Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: Shelby on August 24, 2016, 10:32:24 AM
This particular thread has made me cry. It is a hard road. It's over six years from me and I don't have it all figured out yet. I just wanted you to know, Arneal, that you're definitely not alone.

<3 to all my fellow former caregivers
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: arneal on August 24, 2016, 12:13:05 PM
Thanks, Shelby:

I am past the six-month mark and there are days when I feel like I am sailing well. I am developing good relationships with those around me and have changed my general atmosphere. I have scents in the house. I've almost finished cleaning the garage. I play music that I like all day (I work from home). I am in the process of joining a new church. I have what I hope is a developing intimate relationship again, which is welcomed after such a long time without that level of closeness due to my former husband's illnesses. One day at a time ...
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: Dragonfly on March 13, 2017, 09:20:11 PM
Wow this resonated so much with me.  I have been in this forum but not this particular area so much.  And tonight realizing some of my conflicting feelings make perfect sense. I was a caregiver to my husband for the last 3 years while he was in liver failure awaiting transplant before he passed away 3 months ago.  My friend asked me last night how I am doing and I almost said well things are a little easier now since I am not caring for my husband anymore, just the house and my son. No more doctor trips or hospital  stays. I felt horrible thinking that and just confused. I miss him so much and just wanted for him to be better not gone. Sometimes I feel like I need to be exerting myself somehow but dont knoe how. Staying somewhat busy but its tough in the winter too. Just get lonely for companionionship. Ugh.
Title: Re: How to be former caregiver
Post by: arneal on March 13, 2017, 09:30:25 PM
Be gentle with yourself, Dragonfly. Take it one breath at a time ...