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Caring for the Caregiver

  • Posted: 06/29/2007

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Your Feelings

It's common to feel stressed and overwhelmed at this time. Like your loved one, you may feel angry, sad, or worried. Try to share your feelings with others who can help you. It can help to talk about how you feel. You could even talk to a counselor or social worker.

Understanding your feelings

You probably have many feelings as you take care of your loved one. There is no right way for you to feel. Each person is different.

The first step to understanding your feelings is to know that they're normal. Give yourself some time to think through them. Some feelings that may come and go are:

  • Sadness. It's okay to feel sad. But if it lasts for more than 2 weeks, and it keeps you from doing what you need to do, you may be depressed.

  • Anger. You may be angry at yourself or family members. You may be angry at the person you're caring for. Or you may be angry that your loved one has cancer. Sometimes anger comes from fear, panic, or stress.

    If you are angry, try to think of what makes you feel this way. Knowing the cause may help.

  • Grief. You may be feeling a loss of what you value most. This may be your loved one's health. Or it may be the loss of the day-to-day life you had before the cancer was found. Let yourself grieve these losses.

  • Guilt. Feeling guilty is common, too. You may think you aren't helping enough. Or you may feel guilty that you are healthy.

  • Loneliness. You can feel lonely, even with lots of people around you. You may feel that no one understands your problems. You may also be spending less time with others.

What may help

Talk with someone if your feelings get in the way of daily life. Maybe you have a family member, friend, priest, pastor, or spiritual leader to talk to. Your doctor may also be able to help.

Here are some other things that may help you:

  • Know that we all make mistakes whenever we have a lot on our minds. No one is perfect.

  • Cry or express your feelings. You don't have to pretend to be cheerful. It's okay to show that you are sad or upset.

  • Focus on things that are worth your time and energy. Let small things go for now. For example, don't fold clothes if you are tired.

  • Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.

  • Spend time alone to think about your feelings.