Probably the hardest thing about being a caregiver is knowing that your job is going to end...and you'll be going on in life, for years or decades.
And that person with whom you pledged to build a life and a future will be a memory, and will recede further into the past every year, until time makes the details of your life shimmer and fade into the distance.
The hardest thing is reaching this knowledge while your mate is still alive, and possibly still energetic and full of life. You see the present in its vitality, and you simultaneously see it truncated, and overlain...and buried...by new experiences.
Hard to do, especially when you may be torn, as well. Torn between the desire to preserve the present within your life as something of a memorial...
...and, deep down in the places of your heart you don't yet want to visit, the desire for this to be over, and to move on.
This is not wrong.
It may feel cold, and disloyal, and it may go against the Hallmark Movie version of life and death, but looking toward tomorrow - even one that feels crippled, like a team going on without a vital player - looking toward tomorrow is HOPE.
Still hard to live with, though. How do you do it?
- First, don't talk about it with the soon-to-be-dead-dude-or-dame. For me, being in a house that will before long not hear the sound of my voice is hard. Having it emphasized really, really sucks.
- Second, don't find a sympathetic single-person-of-0the-opposite-sex to share this with. Heightened emotions can lead to words or actions you'll regret,, and perhaps more important...you may destroy the possibility of future happiness with that very person, or, because of guilt, with someone else.
- Third, do find a grief support group before you need it, and talk to the facilitator about what you're going through now, That now is what hurts.
- Fourth, don't make proclamations or concrete plans of any time (beyond those that are legally or financially necessary). Don't announce to your circle of friends that you'll never remarry, or that you intend to keep everything 'just as it was'. I certainly don't want my wife turning her house or life into a shrine; were you in my shoes, I'll bet you'ld agree...am I right?
The most important thing to realize here is that you can, and probably will have feelings about this process, and about the future, that run contrary to the preconceptions you may have developed through the years.\
\Please, don't be cruel to yourself. Please be understanding, and compassionate.
And your future happiness is important.