Grief is a natural response to loss. For a caregiver, that grief can begin during your caregiving responsibilities. In fact it often starts the day you hear of your loved one’s diagnosis. The grieving process begins when the loss is recognized, and continues on until that loss is accepted.

A recent post on the University of Kentucky Elder Care blog stated that throughout the extended caregiving journey, you will experience many types of losses – loss of the relationship, as it was, loss of future hopes and dreams, loss of financial stability and more. After your loved one dies and your caregiving responsibilities end, you are coping with loss, grief and change all at the same time. Your everyday world will be much different. The tasks and responsibilities you once performed will no longer be a part of your daily routine. Moving past your caregiver duties and readjusting to the world around you will be an important part of making your way through the grieving process.

You need to acknowledge that the grief exists. Do not just hide it away in the back corners of your mind. Accept these negative feelings – sadness, fear, anxiety – and allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. If you block these uncomfortable feelings you are blocking your ability to move on.

The best way to cope with grief is to rebuild yourself and your life; to move past your old role into your new life. So….What do you do, now that you are no longer a caregiver?

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy said, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Finding ways to reclaim your life and readjust to your new role as a non-caregiver will allow you to find peace.