Caregivers are always filled with sweet, loving feelings towards the ones they care for. Aren’t they? It would be nice if this statement were true, but it is not only untrue, but it is also totally unrealistic. The truth is that caregiving often involves a lot of anger.
One of the hardest parts of being a caregiver, at least emotionally, is that you are grieving a loss that continues indefinitely without closure. Any loss is tragic, but with a defined event such as death or divorce, you have the chance to work through the grieving process toward acceptance and healing. However, when your loved one suffers a series of smaller losses over months and years, the grieving process never ends.
Anger is one of the classic stages of grief, and if you, the caregiver, can accept that this is a normal part of the journey, perhaps you can bypass some of the guilt that comes with it. Anger in itself is simply an emotion and is not inherently bad. The reaction to the anger is what determines whether it is right or wrong. When watching a loved one fight a losing battle against cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other conditions, it would be crazy not to rage against those insidious diseases.
The trick is to find healthy ways of releasing the anger without either turning it inward on yourself or outward on your loved one. My main releases were writing and sharing with other caregivers in a support group. Each of us has to find what works for us, and then we have to commit to doing that on a regular basis so we can continue to offer loving care.
Remember – love is not a feeling. Love is acting in a loving manner, even when you don’t feel like it – even when you’re angry.
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