Emotions

Emotions

Taking care of a person with an illness or disability can stir up some complicated emotions. You may have great days when you feel a deep sense of fulfillment and connection. You will have hard days, filled with guilt, grief, or anger. You might even have conflicting feelings, like love and resentment, at the same time.

No two caregiving experiences are the same. What triggers one person may not be an issue for another. It is important to know there is no formula for what you feel or when. And there are no feelings you “should” or “shouldn’t” have. Emotions just arise whether you want them to or not. 

It helps to know the kinds of feelings that might come up, how to recognize them, and what you can do to manage them. Find out more on the following pages!

From being unappreciated to feeling trapped, caregiving stress can set off your anger. You might lose your temper or shout something that you normally would not do.

What you can do: If it happens, forgive yourself. Step away if you need to or take a few breaths to center yourself.

You may have a long list of concerns: “What if I’m not around when something goes wrong? What if I make a mistake?” Anxiety happens when we feel out of control. It is also a warning to pay attention and tend to your own needs.

What you can do: Try to avoid focusing too much on “what if”. Keep your attention on things you can control, like making a backup plan for when you cannot be around.

People usually think of grief when someone dies, but it is really about loss. When somebody you care for gets sick, it changes this person you know so well, which affects your relationship, too. That’s a loss.

What you can do: You may need to grieve. Sometimes, you will just need to cry. And that is  OK. It is one way your body releases that pressure.

What you can do: Try to avoid focusing too much on “what if”. Keep your attention on things you can control, like making a backup plan for when you cannot be around.

This is very familiar for many caregivers: Guilt that you are not doing enough, that you should be better at it, that you just want it to end. It is a swamp you could sink in, That does not help you or the person fo whom you care.

What you can do: Go easy on yourself. If you feel like you are not doing enough, imagine if you were not there — look at the difference you make every day.

What you can do: You may need to grieve. Sometimes, you will just need to cry. And that is  OK. It is one way your body releases that pressure.

What you can do: Try to avoid focusing too much on “what if”. Keep your attention on things you can control, like making a backup plan for when you cannot be around.

Every day, you confront loss and change. Sadness is bound to pop up. If it will not let go and you think you might be depressed, get help right away.

What you can do: You can start with your doctor or by talking with a therapist. Also, exercise and social activities are great ways to handle sadness and depression. Although they do not fix the issue, they give you stress relief, energy, a better mood, and a social connection if you work with other people.

When you reframe caregiving to focus on the upsides, it helps avoid burnout and depression. For example, maybe you feel:

  • A sense of purpose in your life
  • Closer to your loved one
  • Fulfilled in giving back to someone you love
  • Good about yourself
  • Pleased to model caregiving for your children so they might do the same someday
  • Satisfied knowing that your loved one gets great care