As a carer, losing the one you are supporting can be a double pain of bereavement and redundancy. Here, guest blogger Christine Rae opens up about her experiences.
Why am I writing this piece about caring? The reason is simple – because when I became an accidental carer for my Mum I couldn’t find the information I needed to do the task effectively. With hindsight I suspect it was available, but just not in one place, and the conversations I had with others in similar situations seemed to bear this out. This article illustrates my experience and it acknowledges my gratitude for all the help I got from those people who time and again rescued me from the mire.
To me there are two types of carer, visible and invisible. The visible ones are easily recognised, generally wear a uniform and have had some specific training to equip them for their caring role. Invisible carers on the other hand, have in most cases had no training at all, relying on a combination of love, basic instinct, resourcefulness and sheer good luck to enable them to look after their loved one, and are recognized only by their relationship to the person they care for.
I’d hear people saying things like, “Caring is a steep learning curve.” “It’s a strain sometimes, but what’s the alternative?” “A warped sense of humour helps!” “One day I’ll remember all the laughter we shared, then I’ll feel sad and guilty.” “Mustn’t complain.” “I love him but I get so tired.” “Where’s the five minutes I promised myself?” “It’s very isolating.”
And what becomes of the carer after their loved one dies? There is the immediate pain and grief, the keeping up appearances in public, the eventual rebuilding of some kind of lifestyle, and superficially at least, they look as if they are managing, coping, doing OK. It is the same problem again. They have loved and cared for their relative, in many cases for years, and have suddenly been deprived of that ability. They are suffering the double pain of bereavement and redundancy, and as a result of a loss of purpose and focus, need help and support to rebuild their sense of self-worth once more.
I found that the most important thing was admitting to myself that I was feeling vulnerable and letting other people help me. Don’t feel guilty about accepting it, they would not offer if they didn’t want to become part of your life. Let your guard down, open yourself up and let the world back in. It won’t flood in, it will only come in as quickly as you need it to, and one day the person doing the helping and supporting will be you, the no longer redundant carer.
This is a ‘Soapbox’ article from our Advantage Magazine (p25). Soapbox columns do not necessarily reflect Age Scotland’s views or policies. To submit an article call Advantage on 0845 833 0200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org