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When your role as a carer ends

4th Jul 2016
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Caring for someone can be a big part of your life, especially if you’re spending a substantial amount of time looking after them. But when those caring responsibilities come to an end, many say they feel a huge void in their lives as they come to terms with the considerable change in their life.

During your time as a carer, it’s likely that your role will change, and at some stage come to an end. This may be for positive reasons such as the person you’re caring for recovering; but it may be for more difficult reasons such as the person dying, or that their caring needs can no longer be met by you or at home.

When your caring responsibilities do come to an end, it’s not uncommon to feel a mixture of emotions. For example, some carers may experience a feeling of relief. According to the charity Marie Curie, this is something you shouldn’t feel guilty about, as it’s a natural reaction to the pressure of looking after someone being taken away.

But whether the person you were caring for has recovered, or if you are experiencing bereavement, there are things you can do to help adjust and rebuild your life at the end of your role as a carer.

Focus on yourself

You may find that you have lots of spare time on your hands when your caring role comes to an end. This is a good opportunity to rest as you’re likely to feel exhausted both mentally and physically. But if you find this difficult – if it makes you feel as if you have no sense of purpose – try to think about what you could do with that time.

If you had to stop working because of your caring responsibilities, you may want to consider returning to work and continuing your career (though it’s generally thought that going back to work too soon may not be a good idea for everyone).

If returning to work isn’t something that you feel is suitable at this time, volunteering may be a better option. There are lots of charities that need help from volunteers with business and finance skills. You can find details of available opportunities at icaewvolunteers.com. But if you would rather use this as an opportunity to share your experiences as a carer and help others, do-it.org is a useful website for finding volunteering opportunities in your area.

Another option is to use this time to take that course you’ve always wanted to do and learn a new hobby or skill. You can find details of courses where you live at your local library or adult education centre. Meanwhile if you’re experiencing stress as a result of the changes in your life, our free Managing personal change effectively course can help you learn to adjust and find ways to accept changing situations.

Talk about it

If, as the result of your caring role ending you’re experiencing bereavement, bottling up your feelings can make things worse. If you have close family and friends around you, try talking to them about how you feel as this may help you to accept what’s happened.

You may also benefit from talking to someone who has been bereaved, as they’ll know what you’re going through. But if on the other hand you’re finding it particularly difficult to cope with feelings of loss and you’d prefer to speak to someone you don’t know, our trained counsellors can help you through the emotional trauma of bereavement. Call +44(0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.

Keep their memory alive

One of the things many people worry about when someone close to them dies is that they’ll forget all those little things that meant so much to them. But you can keep your bond strong by keeping up with some of the things you used to do with the person you’ve lost, or taking part in an activity they would have approved of – a charity event, for example. You may also find it soothing to look at old photos and to write down your memories of the deceased.

Whatever your situation, we’re here to support carers at all stages of their caring responsibilities. Our trained counsellors are available any time, whenever you need us, either on the phone or online. We can help organise and pay for respite care, home adaptations and specialist equipment. Plus our online service Find Me Help is an easy way to find bereavement support and help with end-of-life care in your area.

Our Care Matters booklets contain loads of information, support and advice for carers. Our website also features information articles aimed at helping carers, including Help for carersHow to juggle work and care and Top health tips for carers.

For advice and information call +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.

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