The weight of caregiver guilt can be overwhelming. Guilt is a 4-letter word in disguise. It is a bad feeling that can tear us down. As family caregivers we wrestle with feelings of guilt frequently. We give all we have however too often we feel like we have failed. And we doubt ourselves every single day. Sometimes guilt is like jet lag from a non-stop cross country flight, depriving us of rest, sleep, nourishment and leaving us dried out, dehydrated, a shell of a former self.
When guilt overtakes us as adult children caring for aging families , we may need someone to help us with a reality check. A mental health professional, primary care doctor, a loving partner or friend can hold a hand or a heart. We need reminders that self-care can be something as simple as taking a deep breath, a walk or connecting with someone that is on the same care-giving journey.
No one has super powers. We don’t have the power to heal a disease or condition. We can’t fix a lifetime of family dysfunction. However, the way we react to gut-wrenching crises and times of anxiety and stress is something within our control. Build a circle of support; join a caregivers support group (in person or online); ask for help; recognize when good is good enough; move your body even when it’s the last thing in the world you want to do. Fortify yourself so that you can go the distance.
Members of the sandwich generation burn their candles at both ends at the same time. They work, they run, they get angry, they feel depressed and even hopeless at times.
Instead of burning candles could we try instead to extinguish the flame of caregiver guilt?