What To Do After Your Job As a Caregiver Is Done
I’ve mentioned in previous blog articles that I come from a family of caregivers. Some are professional caregivers in some capacity (nursing, social work, etc) and others just take on that role naturally when the need arises. Up until recently, my aunt and uncle were the de facto caregivers for my grandmother. When she passed away, she was 92 years old and still somewhat active but obviously needed help around the house and companionship when she was home alone.
As is relatively common among caregivers, that role became a part of their identity and when my grandmother passed away, I saw something interesting for the first time since I’ve known these two – confusion. While we were all spending time together, I heard various statements from “this is weird” to “what am I going to do with my days now?”.
While we were talking about this, it occurred to me that not many people think about what they’re going to do after their job as a caregiver is completed. And it doesn’t surprise me – after all, the life event that typically brings that role to a close is the death of that loved one and people simply don’t want to think about that.
I want to be very clear that the goal of this post isn’t to bring a difficult topic to mind but simply to offer some suggestions if you’ve recently lost someone for whom you were a primary caregiver.
Get a Part Time Job
Remember that you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands – time that you would typically spend with your loved one. While you might feel a sudden loss of purpose, my uncle found that getting a part time job at a retail store helped him keep busy and maintain some sort of purpose. While it wasn’t as meaningful as his role as a caregiver, at least he’s able to help a business operate and their customers with their needs.
Take Up a Hobby
If you’re not interested in getting a part time job or are still working your full time job, try picking up a new hobby that can take up some time. As a caregiver you’ve had to take a back seat to your responsibilities. If there’s something that you’ve wanted to do, take the time to do it now. Use it as an opportunity to honor your loved one – remember that they wanted you to live a fulfilled life as well.
Spend Time with Family and Friends
This one might seem like a no brainer but be careful not to let yourself become isolated.
Remember that you served your family and loved ones well. Guilt is a natural part of grief and mourning but don’t forget that your time as a caregiver was well spent.