Spousal Caregivers: Grieving Life Changes?

I have a good friend, Joy.  The other day we were having tea and something I said, I can’t remember what, prompted her to say, “Maybe you’re grieving Chris already.  Is that possible?”

 I had been an hour late for our meeting because I read the clock wrong.  Not once, but several consecutive times as I glanced at it.  And when I got there, realizing how late I was, I burst into tears.

 My husband has the most pervasive case of coronary artery disease his cardiologist has ever seen. Chris had his first big heart attack in 1993 and since then, events and procedures have  constantly reminded us of the fragility of his life.  That’s stressful.

It’s hard to write about this anxiety, about how it impacts me.

What spousal caregivers relinquish from their own lives in caring for their spouses, can create a sense of loss. 

Added to that is the certain knowledge the future is going to hold something entirely different for us—to a large extent, an unknown quantity.

Alma Vaugeois, a clinical psychologist and counselour, tells me caregiving for the terminally ill is living in the uncertainty of what is going to happen and when.  

People feel helpless in the face of the unknown. They can also feel loss long before anyone passes, Alma told me.  

For me, these voluntary and involuntary life changes create a wholly natural and very unwelcome sense of loss.

Parts of our lives must be let go in order for us to do what in all good conscience we feel we must, what in our love for our spouses we are driven to do.

We all know what must lie ahead in terms of our spouse’s condition.

And people feel guilty thinking about the future, Alma related.

In short, we deal with guilt and grief while caring for our loved ones.

Perhaps that is what Joy saw in me that day.  Grieving for what I am losing even now, while he is still living.

 I wouldn’t change my choices.  But it seems I can’t do anything about the emotional fallout that accompanies them, either.

And I wonder how many others have experienced this loss?  And how many have covered up these feelings out of guilt or shame?

You can learn more about Alma from her website at: www.almavaugeois.com/

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

One thought on “Spousal Caregivers: Grieving Life Changes?”

  1. In my experience caring for my terminally ill husband I was also confused about the intense feelings that overwhelmed me day after day. Of course all the while not showing them because after all it wasn’t me who was dying, how could I? Looking back now that he has passed away I can see some things a little more clearly and wanted the share a thought with you:

    How many soldiers do you think would sign up for a war that they were told for certain they would not win. How many men and women would get in those trenches if they were never given hope of a better world, hope of saving lives, hope that in the end no matter what they lost the war would be won? You are currently in the trenches and you are guaranteed a loss. No matter how hard you fight and no matter what you give of yourself in the end there will be no victory.

    So are you grieving your husband yet? In my opinion , no you are not. You are trying to understand this war called illness. You are trying to cope with caring for the man you love knowing that all you do is for not. He will die anyway and there is no telling as to when. So you wait wondering when and how will death come.

    You are fighting a new battle every day only to lose the war. In my opinion you are trying to process, understand and cope with that.

    That’s just my opinion based on my experience. I could also be wrong Aunty.


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