January is already upon us! And the holidays are a thing of the past. Hopefully, you were able to spend time with your loved ones. But now, at the start of the new year, you’ve got the blues; worry and guilt rise to the surface. You’re drowning in a mixture of emotions. What is happening?
You may be experiencing some form of post-holiday blues, which is common among caregivers. In fact, the Caregivers support Helpline receives many calls during this time of year.
A turbulent reunion
You hadn’t seen your loved ones for many long weeks. This Christmas was undoubtedly highly anticipated. And again this year, the holiday season was disrupted at the last minute, by the restrictions related to the current health situation.
The joy of being with your loved ones has given way to anxiety, even helplessness. In addition to the worrisome context, you may have noticed that your loved one has lost their autonomy, that their illness has progressed or that they have not made the expected progress. You realize that the challenges are greater than you thought.
You are also concerned about the person who is taking care of your loved one on a daily basis. How will they be able to manage everything?
When it comes time to leave, you feel guilty about returning to your daily life.
A little magic for the holidays
Let’s take another example. You see your loved one throughout the year. They may even live with you. During the holiday season, you have attempted to put aside the pain and difficulties of everyday life so that a little magic can appear for a few days or hours.
Some services have been suspended during this time, and your support network has been overwhelmed by the festivities, and gatherings are once again prohibited. This has put additional strain and pressure on you.
You may regret not having been able to create the festive atmosphere you wanted.
You have not had a chance to take a break during this period. You feel guilty.
What you are feeling is normal!
You have the right to feel all these emotions! It’s only human. Don’t minimize your feelings of helplessness or guilt.
How do you move forward? Here’s the answer from Gaëlle, a caregiver counsellor at the Caregivers support Helpline: "By seeking help and ensuring that you take care of yourself! Caregivers are encouraged to take care of themselves. It seems trivial, but you have to remember that you are still caregivers, even during the holidays. Ideally, you should be able to set aside some time for yourself, set your limits and accept them, and learn to relax. "Even if it doesn’t seem like a priority, taking care of yourself is also a way to support your loved one. Why not try it, without feeling guilty?"
Even far away, you are a caregiver
"Just because you don’t live with your loved one doesn’t mean you’re not a caregiver and you can’t need support. You shouldn’t isolate yourself and tell yourself that you can’t do anything because you’re far away. This feeds the feeling of guilt," explains Gaëlle. There is more than one way to take concrete action, even if you live far from your loved one:
- You feel that your loved one needs help and services. If possible, try to talk to them about it: "Are you okay? You looked a little under the weather... Have you seen your doctor lately?"
- You can also talk with a family member who cares for that person. "I think Pierre has lost some of his capacities. I imagine it’s a difficult time for you. Have you thought about getting services to help you both? What can I do to help you?"
- If you haven’t already done so, you can take the initiative to open a file at the CLSC, follow up on it, contact a social worker or community organizations. The counsellors at the Caregivers support Helpline are there to listen to you and guide you towards services tailored to your situation: 1 855 852 7784 or [email protected].
Remember that you are doing what you can, as best you can. And that you are not alone.
Thanks to Gaëlle Jean-Louis, Caregiver Counsellor at the Caregivers support Helpline for her contribution.