A little over a year ago the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was officially a pandemic. Health restrictions, limited visitation and the impact of the pandemic on the service offering of community organizations exacerbated many emotions that live alongside guilt (anger, frustration, sadness, helplessness, exhaustion).
Even beyond this unprecedented crisis, guilt is an emotion felt by nearly all caregivers at one time or another in their journey.
This feeling is often unpleasant, painful, tiresome or overwhelming and can lead to exhaustion as well as depression. It is important to lift the burden of guilt to feel better about ourselves and in our caregiver role.
Acknowledging your feeling of guilt
The first step to reduce this feeling is to recognize it and identify its origin. Education, religion, social pressures, our personal history and our own demands are factors that may be at play. It can appear following an action, words or not doing an action. For example, you have to delegate a task, you are thinking about putting your loved one in care or you could not keep a promise. This feeling alerts us and tells us that we need to find a balance between our needs and our obligations.
Finding a balance
- Finding a balance between our own needs and those of the other person is not easy. To transform our feeling of guilt, we have to change our perspective on the situation.
- Weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
- Remember all the good things that you have done for your loved one.
- Replace the word guilt with responsibility. To be responsible means taking care of the other person while taking care of yourself.
- Be indulgent toward yourself by allowing for mistakes.
- Recognize and accept your limits.
- Recognize that as a caregiver, you also have needs.
- Recognize that as a caregiver, you also have rights (e.g., to say no, to take time for yourself, to express your emotions, etc.).
- Recognize that the feeling of guilt can be harmful to your health.
- Focus on the situations over which you have some control and let go of the rest. To this end, you can ask yourself the following question: “Did I do what I could?”
- Explore your loved one's network of support to delegate certain tasks.
- Look at the possibility of asking for outside help (meals on wheels, friendship visit, help with errands, etc.).
- Participate in workshops and conferences to learn about the topic.
- Participate in a support group or consult a psychosocial support worker.
- Take time away from your role and recharge your batteries (play a sport, create some art, read, take a walk in nature, etc.).
To talk about this theme and help you face this feeling, you can contact our counsellors at Caregiver Support:
By telephone: 1-855-852-7784
By email: [email protected]
The service is free, confidential and available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.