Editor’s Note: For those who are professional caregivers, we offer you the following article written by a Registered Nurse. If you are a Physician, an RN, a Nursing Assistant, a Social Worker, a Bereavement Counselor or a Volunteer working within a hospice program, we hope you benefit from the advice in the words below.
Coping with “Caregiver Grief”– Grieve Often and Grieve Well
“We burnout not because we don’t care, but because we don’t grieve..because we have allowed our hearts to become so filled with loss that we have no room left to care.” ~Rachel Remen, MD
(From: “Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal”)
We expect to feel grief when a loved one dies, but when someone we are caring for dies, who is not a family member, our grief tends to get internalized or maybe even go unrecognized. After all, staying cool and unflappable is an expected and admirable quality of professional caregivers; being vulnerable is not. Besides, there is not enough time to grieve when there are others to care for.
Try these suggestions for coping with “caregiver grief:”
- Acknowledge your grief to a trusted friend and/or write about it in a journal.
- Be compassionate with yourself; experiencing grief is a normal and natural result of caring for others.
- Share with co-workers at regularly scheduled times about those deceased who have touched your life. Consider using rituals such as lighting candles to honor those who have died.
Rebecca S. Hauder, RN, LCPC