Caregiver Confessions: When You Feel You've Lost Your Purpose After Caregiving Ends

Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there
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Alongside the hole left by losing a loved one, a caregiver may be surprised to feel a different kind of loss: a foundering sense of purpose. It makes sense -- caregiving can be so consuming and can require such hard-won expertise that it can be difficult to regain a footing in "normal life" afterward.

"Your loved one needed you, and now that she's gone, it can be hard to replace that," says TV-radio personality Leeza Gibbons, who founded Leeza's Place communities for caregivers after her mother died of Alzheimer's disease. "It's like losing a job."

Watch Leeza's advice for regaining purpose after caregiving.

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More tips on making this transition:

Embrace, don't discount, what you've been through. Recognize that there's real value to the practical skills and psychological insights you gained as a caregiver. Added to the invaluable service you provided to your loved one, you can see that this was not "wasted" effort.

Share your wisdom with others. Caring.com offers many ways that members can comment on articles, offer their advice and experience, and speak directly to other caregivers. It's common to want to "give back" to help others overcome some of the challenges you faced -- and that's invaluable!

Force yourself to reconnect. Slowly begin to pick up some of the old threads of your life that may have become frayed during your caregiving journey. Reacquaint yourself with community resources, that exercise class you dropped, your library or book club membership. Consider a part-time job. Get out into the world.

Consider your new skills as professional ones. Many former caregivers go on to become nurses, geriatric care managers, social workers, Area Agency on Aging employees, or elder companions -- or to take on other roles that build on what they learned as caregivers.

See also:


When You're Feeling Guilt

When You Don't Feel Appreciated

When You're Sleeping Poorly

When You're in Over Your Head


When You Lose Your Temper

Family Is Being Torn Apart

When You're Just Not Eating Right

When You Rarely See Friends


When You Resent Being a Caregiver

When No One Will Help


Feeling Anticipatory Grief

After Caregiving Ends


Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio