This is the second of our two-part series on the uninvited guest- guilt. Playing such a significant part in so many dementia journeys, we will explore how and why this unhelpful emotion can have such an impact on those in a caring position. And crucially, how we can unpack the feeling together, to ultimately minimise it and control it.
Guilt is a challenging emotion. To talk about feelings of guilt can be so helpful, but guilt often means we are less likely to share. And so, the cycle is allowed to continue.
First, let’s just acknowledge that guilt is normal. In fact, any emotion you may feel on your unique journey caring for someone living with dementia, is natural. Nothing is off limits. Being a Carer for a loved one is incredibly hard- and it’s ok to say that out loud. It’s one of the most physically and emotionally draining experiences you can go through. Asking for help and being heard, will make the difference to the lived experience of both you and your loved one. Rest assured, our experienced team of Wayfinders are unshockable. They’re ready to listen when you’re ready to talk.
Why are people in a caring role often plagued by guilt?
Over the years, some of the families we have helped at Dementia Support have shared their journeys with us. They’ve talked openly and bravely about their experiences, allowing us to pull together some of the reasons why you might feel guilty as a Carer. If some, or all of the below seem familiar, you’re not alone.
Feeling guilty because you’re resentful of being thrust into a caring role.
Feeling guilty because you’re being snappy or impatient.
Feeling guilty because you think another Carer is doing a better job.
Feeling guilty because you don’t want to be a Carer for a loved one.
Feeling guilty because you’re asking for help.
Feeling guilty because you want time apart.
Feeling guilty because you have conflicted emotions about the death of your loved one.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Guilt can crop up in the most unlikely place. If not dealt with, it can spread and become emotionally very damaging.
Guilt is an unhelpful emotion but commonplace in many caring roles. That doesn’t mean you need to live with it. Accepting and acknowledging how you feel- and unpacking why you might be feeling that way is step one to a healthier outlook. Caring for someone living with dementia is akin to a job- but harder because intense emotions are often involved. Like any job, regular breaks, enough sleep and workplace support are vital to its success. Our Wayfinding team are here to help. Asking for help is the first step to showing guilt the door.
When we feel guilty in any walk of life, the sentiment is often associated with the perceived impact of our actions on someone we care about. Focus on the second half of this sentence for a moment…”someone we care about”. Let that sink in. Your feelings of guilt are stemming from a place of love and care. Try to remember that. Being a Carer for a loved one, friend, or family member is a gesture of love. When and if those feelings of guilt rear their ugly heads- reach out. You are not alone.