When illness turns family members into caregivers there is often strong emotional experiences that the caregiver goes through.
Sadness: It is disturbing to see a loved one rendered physically helpless, particularly if the injury or illness had a sudden onset. But the advent of cognitive deficits, causing changes in the patient’s personality and behaviour, are generally found by researchers to be far more wrenching for their families.
Anger: Caregiver anger depends mostly on the relationship between the patient and the caregiver before the illness. At its simplest, it takes the form of blaming the patient for bringing the tragedy upon the family. The sting of being unjustly trapped often lies at the root of anger. Sometimes the anger isn’t toward the patient but at God. Anger must be dealt with promptly or it will turn into bitterness.
Worry: Every family member of one who is suffering worries. But a caregiver must be careful not to worry him or herself too much or he/she will get burned out.
Guilt: Many family members feel guilty that their loved ones have become ill as if it is their fault. A family member might feel guilty that he or she hasn’t visited a loved one in the nursing home. Also, there may be guilt because a relationship went sour before the illness took place. It is never too late to love. Visit that family member in the nursing home. Start talking and praying for him or her.
Generally, empathising with the caregiver’s emotions is one of the most effective ways that a patient can give back something meaningful to those that have made sacrifices on their behalf. When a caregiver is willing to take the risk of expressing sadness for example, to a loved one in a non-blaming way, it most often results in a greater feeling of communion between the two that helps them both feel better understood and supported. Emotions are something we all have, however much we may try to suppress them. It is important to communicate your feelings and have a support network around you to help you deal with your emotions.
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