Spiritual Care: How Caregivers Can Maintain Their Emotional Well-Being
Taking care of a sick loved one can be exhausting, especially with the added chaos of the holiday season. Expectations about how this time of year should be, how one should feel and the nostalgia of memories past, can be overwhelming. And with so much focus on the physical well-being of a sick loved one, it’s easy to overlook the emotional needs of oneself.
A little bit of extra spiritual maintenance during this season could be especially helpful to caregivers and families of sick loved ones. Try some of these helpful tips and get some insight from our Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator, Jamesetta Roach.
Find a listening ear
A caregiver’s to-do list is endless and they are not often given the time or space to process what they’re feeling. Many times their emotions are wide-ranging and even confusing, however, there is so much power in feeling heard.
“When you listen to people you can sometimes grab their heart,” says Jamesetta. “Whether you're religious or spiritual or not, just being attentive and sensitive as a human being can mean a lot.”
Simply having someone to talk to about these feelings can help bring a sense of comfort and relief. Sometimes the best gift a caregiver can receive is the kind, listening ear of a friend.
Acknowledge difficult emotions
It’s normal for caregivers to experience a range of emotions and, in many instances, these emotions can prompt less-than-ideal behavior. It’s important for caregivers to feel and process their emotions without guilt, rather than reacting to these powerful feelings in the moment or ignoring them altogether.
“In my experience, people just want to share their feelings without being made to feel like they shouldn't feel a certain way or they shouldn't feel like that. You know, they should be allowed to grieve healthily, whatever that looks like for them,” Jamesetta says.
Journaling can be a productive way of releasing those feelings and can be especially helpful if expressing oneself to others becomes difficult. This can be a healthy way for caregivers to work toward emotional stability and peace.
Be gentle with the journey
The ups and downs of a sick person’s health can bring the emotional ups and downs of their caregivers and loved ones. A lot of times, people attempt to make sense of these emotions and get frustrated when they don’t match up with expectations. There are many possible reasons for caregivers to feel the things they do - grief, guilt, frustration, resentment, and many of those feelings are quite common, despite what society deems acceptable.
“We tell people not to expect to be at a certain emotional stage at a certain time, especially when it comes to grief,” says Jamesetta.
It can be even more difficult for caregivers when their emotions can unsupported. Joining a support group can help give them that support from people who understand what they’re going through. This emotional validation can be quite important to the healing process.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis is proud to offer various support to patients and families. For more helpful information about emotional health, visit some of our other blogs: