Many of us fall into/take on board the role of a carer, at some point during our life’s journey.
Many of us are too familiar with the experience of grief in response to health-related changes in our loved ones; whether these relate to frail age, or some other emotional or physical un-wellness.
Relationships, especially with our loved ones, are significant to the make-up of our worlds. They influence our identities and provide us with meaning and purpose.
Changes within our relationships are likely to trigger various emotional reactions, these may include: sadness, anxiety, frustration, anger, or loneliness. Sometimes we may feel under additional pressure to conceal our feelings, for example due to a pressure to appear ‘strong.’
Some of us can find moments of joy in whatever caring/togetherness is still possible within our relationships, in whatever abilities are loved ones still enjoy, and in re-focusing on other areas of our lives that bring fulfillment. We may feel like we are able to adjust to/accommodate the ‘new normal’ and cope in a way that reflects positivity and hope, focusing on what we can do to support our loved ones, or build within our relationships.
Usually, we are likely to switch from moments of experiencing the pain of loss, with its many emotional reactions, to focusing on some positive coping-such as the joy in our loved ones’ accomplishments.
Grief, in general, affects every area of our lives.
It can affect our perception of what life is about, our beliefs, our spirituality and faith, our emotional well-being, our social environment, and our health.
Creating a space where we can be ourselves and find expression for what is in our hearts, or where we can share our experiences with others who understand, can be very nourishing and reduce the intensity of our experience.
Grief is very individual, just as relationships are unique.
As human beings, we are wired to form attachments to others, and changes within them trigger strong emotions…There is no known way in which we can stop ourselves from experiencing these (as relationships touch so many areas of our lives), but we can give ourselves support towards managing our feelings and coping with them when they arise.
It is helpful to acknowledge the psychological impact, the changes, the extra demands, and emotional labor that make up our caring roles; and offer ourselves understanding, nourishment, and support. Supporting ourselves through grief is an individual trial and error process, and demands an active response from us, to investigate what could be of benefit or offer nourishment.
Neimeyer, R. (n.d.). Techniques of grief therapy.