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Feeling Relief (and Guilt) at Caregiving's End...

Tips on how to accept your feelings and newfound freedoms


"It was so hard to be with my husband at the end. It was a relief when he finally died," the 80-year-old wife confesses, a month after her spouse finally succumbed to a slowly spreading lung cancer.

But then she adds, with a stricken look, "I feel terrible about feeling relieved. It's as if I wanted him to die. I didn't!"

She pauses again before saying, quietly, "Not really."

Her words reflect the uncomfortable feelings - mostly sad, sometimes mad, but a little glad — that many family caregivers struggle with after a care recipient dies and caregiving suddenly ends.

The relief is real. Few caregivers miss having to be on edge all the time, awaiting the next cry in the night, a fall or some other medical emergency. Few miss the anguish of seeing a loved one suffering and being unable to provide a remedy. With the care recipient's death comes greater freedom and the leisure time to enjoy grandchildren, old friends and hours absorbed in a book or lingering over coffee.


It doesn't happen quickly, take your time be patient with yourself.  You have come through a hard and difficult journey, do what makes you feel better. Get some help if possible.  There is Life after Death of a loved one and you did all you could do - it's now your turn. 

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