The person you are caring for has passed away. This is the beginning of a period of mourning.

You were their caregiver, the person who accompanied them, sometimes for many years. Your common history ends here and you must move on without them. Whether the death was foreseeable or not, it is nevertheless painful. How do you mourn their passing, and how do you rediscover yourself as a person when the other person is no longer there?

default image

Overcoming personal ambiguous loss and grief

Your story is unique, as is your ambiguous loss and grief.

Perhaps you were supporting a loved one in palliative care who passed away a few days ago.

You may also have stayed at your child’s bedside until the end.

Your spouse with Alzheimer’s disease has passed away; you had already gone through a period of ambiguous loss and grief. Perhaps you thought you were prepared for their passing, yet you’ve been overwhelmed by a range of emotions since their demise.

Or you may be a young adult who has done all you can to support your father who is dealing with mental illness.

Your story may resemble one of these. These stories have one thing in common: a caregiver is mourning the death of the person they are caring for, but also, in a way, mourning their role.

ic_play Play Video

Jean-Thomas Jobin shares his personal story and opens up about his last moments with his parents. What about you? What would be your words to describe the death of someone close to you? What emotions do you have? How do you adapt to this new situation?

Grief: small and big fluctuations

Mélanie Vachon is a grief specialist and professor of psychology at UQAM. For her, grief is:

  • a series of reactions, including physical (numbness, slowness, restlessness) and emotional (grief, anger, feelings of injustice), confusion and eating difficulties;
  • a process of fluctuations, ups and downs, a roller coaster ride;
  • a form of work, in which the bereaved person strives to move from a concrete to a symbolic relationship.

Mélanie Vachon points out that grief is not a series of steps with a beginning and an end. There is no end to grief. There is no prescribed path. You handle the grieving process in your own way. You set the boundaries, the scope and the terms of your grief and, based on these elements, you define your needs for support and tools for your journey.

Finding yourself as a person

Depending on the needs of the person you are caring for and your involvement with them, their death can be difficult to deal with as your daily life is disrupted. Your life was centered around them… No more medical appointments to make, medications to dispense or concern for their welfare. Silence settles in. To the aftermath. You may feel unsettled.

You may also be feeling a form of relief (and guilt for feeling this way).

This is all normal and part of your grief process.

Eight tips for your journey

  1. Give yourself the right to express your feelings. “If the person needs to cry and talk, to express the regret and guilt they are experiencing, you have to accept this story and allow them to tell it,” says Mélanie Vachon;
  2. Give yourself time. As Josée Masson, founder of Deuil-Jeunesse, writes, “Grief is not calculated in time, but in links: links of love, links of friendship, significant links…”;
  3. Traverse your grief at your own pace. The grieving process can be difficult, long and complex. Finding your own pace allows you to perceive new perspectives and to welcome the unexpected;
  4. Practise grief rituals and create your own methods of remembering the person;
  5. Surround yourself with people who are going through similar experiences. Joining a support group, sharing your experiences with other bereaved caregivers or with people you trust will help you feel less lonely;
  6. Take time for yourself. How about listening to songs that move you?
  7. You begin the aftermath of your caregiving; this is called the post-caregiving period. This opens the door to the possibility of reinventing yourself in your own way and redefining your path;
  8. Even after the death of the person you were helping, you can contact the Caregiver Support Helpline. This service offered by l’Appui pour les proches aidants continues to be at your side during this period in which you are also mourning the loss of your role as a caregiver.
format_list_bulleted See all tips

Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784
Live Chat