Feeling angry is normal and it’s OK.
Some days I am so angry with my father – angry and resentful that he died and left me responsible for my mother. (Jump to Lessons Learned)
If you are a caregiver, you understand. If you are not there yet, don’t be surprised by these feelings. They are normal and recognizing them is another step in your grieving and for me, part of the path to healing.
It is only recently that I am able to see and admit that I am angry with my father. It makes me uncomfortable and it seems really stupid to be angry with a dead man, but there you have it.
I suspect these feelings of anger, abandonment, betrayal and frustration will be with me for a while. This past year has shown me that feelings ebb and flow as life continues without dad. I have learned to be in the moment and let the feelings come no matter how uncomfortable they make me. Don’t misunderstand me, I have many of the same feelings about caring for my mother and if you think I don’t feel guilty about that you are wrong. Talking to friends who have been, or are in this situation helps. And I have no problem seeking professional help if my anger becomes destructive.
I have come to realize that many of my reactions to mom’s caregiving and the death of my father are related to my childhood and our family’s dynamics. Relationships with parents and siblings are complicated and downright messy. Death and the responsibility of caregiving bring back many of those childhood feelings. It’s easy to spiral down into your eight-year-old self and hard to take a step back into adulthood, but I’ve found it can be done. In fact, it must be done because at this point, your parent(s) do not have that ability.
Here is the other thing I have realized, as your parent’s age their coping mechanisms simply go way. Things that never would have bothered them become insurmountable and you have to find the patience to deal with it. (More on this topic in a blog post to come.) And trust me, that means not acting and reacting like the eight-year-old you may be feeling like at the moment.
- Journaling helps me. I don’t do it all the time, and more often than not it is just before I go to bed. When I find myself obsessing over something, writing down my feelings no matter how ugly helps me sleep. No one will see it but me and I can express anything I need to, about anyone. I always end with at least one thing I am grateful for in my life.
- Grief comes and goes and hits at the craziest times. For me, the first time I walked into a card store after dad died a wave of grief came over me that was so strong I had to walk out. The realization that I would never again buy him a card was like a tidal wave and I had to go with the undertow.
- I continue to lean very heavily on a dear friend who lost her mom after caring for her for years. Her advice was to take it one day at a time and sometimes one minute at a time. “When you want to scream, just walk outside to take a breath and appreciate something you can see right at that moment, a flower, a sunset, anything.”
- Meditation guides are another way I have found to deal with stress. There are many guides available, here are some you might consider:
- Daily Comforts for Caregivers (Pat Samples). Affiliated Link: Amazon.com: Daily Comforts for Caregivers (Pat Samples)
- AARP Meditations for Caregivers: Practical, Emotional and Spiritual Support for You and Your Family (Barry J. Jacobs Psy.D). Affiliated Link: Amazon.com: AARP Meditations for Caregivers
- Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers (ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s Network). Affiliated Link: Clergy Against Alzheimer’s Network: Seasons of Caring
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
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