Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Relief, Sadness, Guilt, and Joy all rolled up into on simple statement. Yet how do four very different words, have meaning to us when Caregiving ends? I believe that these four words are the first emotions that a family Caregiver deals with when the journey ends.
Relief: That caregiving is over. Those long sleepless nights, sleeping with one eye open, are gone. Relief that the one you (loved) cared for is now pain-free.
Sadness: That the life you once knew has now forever changed. That undeniable reality that something powerful has happened that has forever transitioned our lives and the one that we (loved) cared for.
Guilt: Those ‘what if’ days or ‘if I could have done this differently’ days that make us wonder if we did the right thing. And the greatest guilt of them of them all, when you realize that you have to continue on with your life without the one you (loved) cared for. (We want to avoid this emotion as much as possible)
Joy: When you wake up that one morning and tell yourself, ‘Job Well Done and the present and future will be all right! (The hardest emotion to get to when caregiving ends, but the most important one too!)
For every Caregiver, the stark reality is that there is always a beginning and an end to the journey, and in most cases, we are not prepared for either of these events! Yet through our caring and sharing with others, we realize that through our own journey of Relief, Sadness, Guilt and Joy, we find peace and comfort, knowing that we would do it all over again, even after seeing the staircase!