I have noticed over the years that from time to time care providers hide behind their care giving tasks as a way to avoid dealing with the pre-grief they may be feeling. It can be difficult to spot initially as care giving is such a noble and heartfelt form of service.
Yet, over time if left unchecked this practice of avoiding grief by over caring will spell trouble for the care provider. Here are several examples of the consequences;
- Post death depression that often requires professional support and medication.
- Isolation and avoidance of family and friends post funeral.
- A loss of purpose post death especially if the care has been provided over a good length of time.
- An inability to handle day-to-day life issues.
- A sense of uselessness.
If you notice that a loved one seems to be over caring and not letting others provide respite and regular temporary support it would be best to address the issue head on. You could bring this issue up gently by asking such simple questions as;
“When was the last time you took a break for yourself?’
“When were you last out of the house for something other than tasks and duties?”
“When was the last time you went out with a friend for a meal or a cup of tea?”
You could also notice out loud what you are seeing;
“I know you love Mom and you look really tired and drawn. How about a day off just for you?”
“I know you like to take care of all Dad’s needs and I am wondering why you refuse our offers of help?”
“I am concerned about your health Mom I am seeing signs that you are burning out.”
No matter how you choose to approach your loved one whom is over caring approach them sooner or later. You may want to get some ideas from your local health authority, your local hospice or, your family doctor. In matters like this early prevention may indeed be the saving grace that keeps your loving caregiver healthy over the long haul – physically as well as emotionally.