Finding Your Identity When Caregiving Ends

A woman ponders what to do when caregiving ends as she gazes at her reflection in the mirror.
When caregiving ends, it’s important to know how to process the range of emotions and determine who you are apart from your caregiving role.

Caring for a loved one can be an all-consuming role. It takes so much of your energy, time, and focus that when the need for caregiving ends, for any reason, it may leave you feeling lost. Other common feelings to expect when you’re no longer serving as caregiver for a loved one include:

  • Confusion
  • Hopelessness
  • Grief
  • Sadness
  • Exhaustion
  • Anger
  • Relief

Finding Yourself After Caregiving

You will want to allow yourself some transitional time to rediscover what it’s like to live a life that doesn’t include putting someone else’s needs first. Devote some time for reflection on your caregiving experience. What did you learn? How did it change you?

It is also common to feel some degree of guilt once your caregiving role ends. You might feel as though there were things you should have done differently or might have done better. The “what ifs” are quite common, and it can be easy to get caught up in feelings of regret. It is important to forgive yourself and alter your internal dialogue to concentrate on the many positive ways you impacted your family member while providing care. Accept any mistakes, perceived or real, by knowing that you are human and that you did your very best. Extend the same grace to yourself that you would extend to someone else.

After you’ve processed the complex emotions surrounding this transitional time when caregiving ends, think through the following:

  • What relationships have had to take a back seat while you were providing care? What steps can you take to rebuild them?
  • Are there volunteer opportunities that interest you?
  • What hobbies, activities, and passions would you like to pursue?
  • How would you like to structure your days now that you have extra time available?

It’s best to set small goals that are easily reached, instead of biting off more than you may be able to chew. For instance, you might decide to reach out to one trusted friend and see if they would like to meet for a weekly coffee or lunch date. Take sufficient time for self-care to nurture both your mind and body, and gradually add on more activities as you feel prepared to take them on.

Talk to JFS Care

If you discover that you miss providing care for others, we would love to speak with you about an opportunity to make use of your skills and compassion to brighten life for another person in need.

Your experience as a family caregiver makes you a good fit for a professional caregiving role, and we’ll equip you with full training and all the support you will need to make a difference in someone else’s life. You can learn more and apply on our Careers page.

Call us any time at 213-383-2273 for more information.