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Caregiver Grief and How to Cope

Caregiver Grief

A caregiver’s job encompasses complex feelings. Some days are easier than others and in unfortunate and sometimes unforeseen events, a caregiver says goodbye to their patient forever. Whether you cared for a loved one, have been the patient’s caregiver for over 10 years, or were brand new to this patient and their family, everyone grieves differently and it’s okay to ask for support when experiencing caregiver grief. 

Different Types of Grief and How They May Impact the Caregiving Community

Anticipatory Grief

As a caregiver, you can experience something called anticipatory grief.

“Anticipatory grief, also referred to as anticipatory loss or preparatory grief, is the distress a person may feel in the days, months or even years before the death of a loved one or other impending loss.” – Forbes Health

Anticipatory grief can occur in family members of a terminally ill loved one, caregivers, friends, and those close to the patient near their end of life. And according to Forbes Health, “Some experts say anticipatory grief, when managed with coping techniques, can lessen the pain of post-loss grief. Others argue grief before loss has no effect on grief after loss.” 

Helpful ways to cope with anticipatory grief can include:

  • Educating yourself about what to expect
  • Share your feelings with a grief expert or others experiencing anticipatory grief alongside you
  • Talk about unresolved feelings
  • Continue to create memories
Caregiver Grief With Sudden Loss

Sudden Loss

A sudden loss can leave loved ones and those close to the patient feeling out of control, anxious, and shocked.

“Following a death, we are often surrounded by family and friends, there may be cards and flowers, gatherings and sharing of remembrances of the one who died. After the responses and attention trickle down, the reality and depth of the situation may begin to hit home. And with a sudden death, it may leave you particularly vulnerable.” – Banner Health

Helpful ways to cope with sudden loss can include:

  • Educating yourself about the cause of death
  • Share your feelings with a grief expert
  • Work on embracing your feelings and allowing them to come and go in graceful waves

Additional Ways to Cope

Coping with caregiver grief can be challenging, as everyone is different in what they feel, and not every coping mechanism will work for every healthcare professional experiencing caregiver grief. 

But – what Avanza Training can do is recommend various ways to cope that may help you or someone you know cope with these feelings.  

First, accept the role you play or played in this patient’s life and work through any complex feelings that may arise. These can include guilt, depression, sadness, and frustration. 

“You may find yourself going over everything you should’ve done or could’ve done to be a better provider to your loved one. The reality is that your role was a limited one. Your job was not to figure out a cure or to bring your loved one back to health.” – Cake

Recommendations from Avanza Training on coping with grief also include taking time for yourself. 

It’s important that during your grieving process, you pay close attention to your physical and mental well-being by dedicating time to activities that you enjoy. This is important to keep in contact with those close to you, get out of the house, and allow your mind to focus on something other than the grief you may be feeling. 

As Avanza Training continues to train the next generation of caregivers, we are here for you no matter what difficulty or emotion you may be facing in your journey as a caregiver. We hope that our writings continue to be a great resource for you and whoever may need them.