let go of the “G” word... GUILT
What is guilt? According to Dictionary.
com, it is being responsible for the
commission of an offense. Remorseful
awareness of having done something wrong. Selfreproach
for inadequacy or wrongdoing.
Is it fact, that you, the caregiver, are responsible
for an offense? Have you done something
wrong? Quite the contrary. You have taken on
the responsibility of caring for a person you
love very much. You did not ask for this person
to have Alzheimer’s Disease, nor did you ask to
be the caregiver. This is a situation that life has
presented to you and you have stepped up to
the plate. It was a choice to care. What a brave,
honorable decision you made. Whether you care
for them by yourself or you have assistance (in
home care, day care or nursing home care), you
are the “one” there for them.
Why do you take responsibility for things you’re
not “guilty” of ? Is your best not good enough?
Of course it is. So, why do you feel inadequate?
Because you set goals that are unattainable for
anyone to reach.
I have worked with many caregivers over the past
20 years and the majority of them faced feelings
of guilt. They put their ALL into caregiving and
yet, never felt as if they were doing enough. If you
are doing your best, then you are doing enough.
You are not guilty of anything. You have not been
“sentenced” to this situation, it has been given.
When something is given, it is a gift. You can’t
control what is given to you, but you can control
how you choose to respond.
Do we as caregivers think we must punish
ourselves by living under the shadow of guilt and
misery? Do we feel our loved one is suffering so we
must also? I hope not. The best thing we can do
for our loved one’s and ourselves is to recognize
that feelings of guilt are irrational. We must take
care of ourselves by dismissing those feelings.
Feelings of guilt lead to depression. Depression
can lead to ill health and despair. If you as the
caregiver becomes “down” than who will care for
your loved one?
Caring for yourself requires taking breaks
whenever they present themselves. Never turn
down an offer for help. Try to exercise, even if it
means taking a walk around the block. Journal
your feelings. Laugh with someone, even if it’s
yourself or the one you’re caring for. Talk with
friends, family, clergy or join a support group.
Drink a coke. Watch your favorite movie. Dance.
Please, take care of yourself. The person you are
caring for needs you. They continue to love you,
even if they can’t express it. Love goes beyond
any disease, ailment or life’s disappointments.
So, I ask the question again, why do we feel guilt?
Because, it’s a bad habit we must “kick.” “Let go”
of those guilt feelings and start living. When
feelings of guilt start creeping up on you again
(and believe me, they will), tell yourself “I’m doing
the best I can and my best is enough.” “My verdict
is; not guilty, I have nothing to feel guilty for.”
Say: Good-bye to GUILT (Give Undeserved
Illusions Little Thought) Hello to Life.
By William Hammond, J.D.