Caregiver Guilt

Caregiver Guilt

Being a caregiver in the home for a family member can be accompanied by varying degrees of guilt.  It is virtually impossible to care for a loved one and not face the reality that we will inevitably lose them.  Confronting the loss of a loved one can be accompanied by guilt, that we could have done more, should have known better, and could we have done something differently. This type of thinking tends to increase the guilt. 

The Holidays can be difficult.

The holidays can be difficult as we dwell more at this time of the year on our loss.  Holidays are a time for family, and when a loved one has died, it can make surviving almost impossible.  For many, the first reaction is to not celebrate the holiday in an effort to avoid the pain of loss.  But it would be better to look at this time of the year to celebrate the life of your loved one and have it be a time to recall comfort and joy in family traditions.  Creating new family traditions can also help you to move forward in the grieving process. 

Guilt is destructive and can impede our progress and inhibit our destiny.  We spend time berating ourselves instead of focusing on all the good we achieved.  We don’t remember that we enhanced the quality of life of our loved one.  We have to continue to tell ourselves that we have done the best we were able to do.  There is no magic formula to erase guilt.  We just need to work towards remembering all the good we have done. 

Why do we feel guilty about events that make life easier?  Tell yourself it’s OK to use respite care so you can get a break.  It’s OK to leave your loved one in another’s care so that you can get away for a few days, even take a vacation.  It’s OK to hire in-home help to lighten your load at home.  It’s OK to transition a loved one into a long-term care situation if that is what is best for the patient. 

Guilt creeps in when we discount ourselves.  Selfless people tend to feel proportionately more guilt.  Guilt loves high standards.  But nobody’s perfect!  Life happens. 

For caregivers, painful feelings –such as guilt, sadness, and anger – are like any other pain.  It’s your body’s way of saying “pay attention”.  Here are some tips to help manage caregiver guilt:

  • Recognize the feelings.  Name it and don’t let it eat at your soul.

  • Identify other feelings…such as resentfulness, and anger.

  • Be compassionate with yourself.  Recognize that your feelings don’t control your actions.

  • Take action.  Meet your needs.  If you need time to be alone, find the time.

  • Change your behavior. 

  • Ask for help.  Call on family or friends. 

  • Revisit and reinvent the “ideal” you. 

  • Understand that you will be a more effective caregiver when you “care for the caregiver” first.  As a caregiver, when you care for yourself, you increase and improve your own caring. 

Yes, guilt is part of caregiving, but this guilt can help you become the best caregiver you can be.

About Cleansing Water, Inc.

Cleansing Water, Inc. is a Warrenton, Virginia home health care agency offering professional geriatric care and serving seniors, individuals recovering from surgery, individuals with long-term disabilities, and other clients throughout Fauquier, Culpeper, Gainesville, Haymarket, Middleburg, Prince William, Rappahannock and other Piedmont Virginia communities. We provide in-home companions, certified nursing assistants, and geriatric care managers to assist with the tasks of daily living, monitor health and medications, and ensure clients are well cared for, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

For more information about Cleansing Water’s short-term and long-term home health care services, Call (540) 341-0212 or our toll-free number, (866) 294-4665, to schedule a consultation and discuss your geriatric care and home health care options. You can also visit for more information.