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Monday, June 27, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 174 - You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

Boy, does that sound like a self-serving title, or what?

But it's not fully reflective of what I'm trying to say, which is this - caregiving provides a sense of identity and purpose, no matter how onerous or tiring it may become, and when it ends in the death of the patient, it leaves a huge hole

You may miss the patient, but that isn't the point. You'll miss the part of you that died, too.

The biggest symptom of this is that life will seem to have lost most of its flavour after that death. Colours will be dimmer, and neither joys nor sorrows will be very sharp.

It's an emotional numbness that comes with an amputation of part of your life.

How to deal with it? It's tempting to say, :You can't", an to some extent this is true, but there are ways in which effect of loss can be mitigated.

  • First, keep a part of yourself to yourself during the caregiving journey. This means doing your best to preserve the interests and enthusiasms that moved you before, and not to feel that you should sacrifice them on the altar of 'priorities'. You may not have time to fully pursue there interests, or to pursue them at all, but you need to take proactive steps to stay connected.
  • Second, stay in touch with friends. Don't become a recluse who only goes to work and comes home to bear the weight of a narrowing world. The connections are important both for you and your terminally ill husband or wife. You can't be the sole focus of a dying person; it'll suck the future right out of your heart.
  • Third, continue going to church, and make sure that there is a bereavement support group. Talk to your pastor about it; when the time comes, he'll press you to go, if he's any good. Realizing that someone else feels like that can make you feel so much less alone.
Yes, you'll miss me. But, dear caregiver, your life will go on. Please do everything you can to ensure that you'll be there to meet it.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

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  1. A very important issue, thanks for pointing it out.
    This is where family and friends should come in, even if they get a bit of resistance. One thing to remember with this is everyone is there for the surviving spouse for the first few weeks, then they assume they have done their part. Be the friend who shows up a month later and keeps coming back.

    1. You're absolutely right; grief last much longer than a month. It sometimes takes that long for the real shock to begin and withdrawal from society to start...and if friends and family feel they've done their bit by then, the struggle can be horrendous.

      Thanks so much for being here.