Caring is never easy; irrespective of whether you are a paid carer, a friend or a relative, there will always be challenges and tough decisions to be made. Sometimes it may feel as if your feelings are pushed to one side with everything you’re in charge of; if you feel this way, it’s important to ensure you take the time when you can to acknowledge how you are feeling and, if needed, seek support to help you cope.
One such situation is following a bereavement. If you have cared for someone during the end of their life, you are going to feel the loss when they pass away. You may have known that death was imminent, or it may have been a complete shock; either way, it’s important to take time to grieve and make time for your own emotions.
You may feel as if you are expected just to move on (more so in the case of a paid carer than a relative or friend), deal with others’ grief instead of your own or just deal with the practicalities – you may also feel like there is a gaping hole in your life now that the caring role you had been doing has gone, or that the professionals you relied on for support have gone. Seeking support is invaluable and opening yourself up to accepting help can be the first step to coping well.
Here at MyLife, we offer all staff a 24 hour counselling help line; sometimes the first step is picking up the phone.
National Bereavement Charities
There are many charities dealing with bereavement and end of life care in the UK, and they will all take the time to speak with you and support you as you navigate your way through your emotions and daily life. These include Macmillan Cancer Support, Cruse Bereavement Care and the Bereavement Advice Centre.
Local Bereavement Support
As well as big national charities, look to local charities for support – you may also find you make friends in your area this way. Speaking with likeminded people who are close by can lead to lifelong friendships born out of mutual understanding and give you a reason to leave the house and keep busy.
Many hospices also provide bereavement support for the families and carers of those who have used their services, so if this applies to your situation, it’s definitely worth speaking with the hospice you used.
Support for Young Carers
1 in every 10 people in the UK is a carer, which adds up to around 7m carers in the UK alone. Out of this figure, 10% are young carers under the age of 18 – that’s 700,000 children and teenagers caring for friends and relatives.
Being a young carer comes with its own set of issues and one of those is coping with bereavement without the benefit of age – young people may show their grief in different ways that seem unfathomable at the time to others. Charities such as Winston’s Wish, Child Bereavement UK and Young Minds have been set up to specifically cater for the younger generation of carers.
It’s key to remember that you are not alone and that you are as much entitled to your grief and feelings as others who have also felt the loss. Seeking support is often the first step to addressing your emotions and starting to heal, without losing the memories and good times that went before.