“I wish this was over…” and other ‘unspeakable’ thoughts from friend and family caregivers
Taking care of an adult loved one, like an aging parent or an ailing spouse, is hard. Really hard. Arguably, one of the most challenging parts of caring for a loved one is the emotional isolation. Unlike buying a home, having a child, or other life milestones that are shared about openly, the milestone of caregiving is rarely discussed, outside of a few notable caregiving social media influencers like Elizabeth Miller, Jessica Guthrie, and Chris Punsalan. This lack of sharing can leave friend and family caregivers with substantial anxiety about whether or not they’re doing everything ‘right’, and whether or not the ‘unspeakable’ negative emotions that they have about caregiving are normal.
Feelings of anger and resentment while caregiving are absolutely normal. To bring these very common feelings to light, we spoke with 10 current and former caregivers who courageously shared their most authentic thoughts about their caregiving experience. We’re forever grateful to these 10 individuals for sharing so vulnerably in order to provide other caregivers with the support and validation that they deserve. Here’s what they had to say:
“God, I don’t want my dad to suffer anymore and frankly, I am exhausted from caring for him. When will this end?” –Kwamina
“I’m the sole caregiver for my husband. He was recently in rehab recovering from an injury. He came home on my birthday. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad he was well enough to come home, but I hate that I had to give up seeing my mom for my birthday because he was coming home. I know it’s not his fault and he has no control over when his [inpatient hospital rehab] days run out, but it’s hard not to resent him for it.” –Shujen
“I hate how much my partner’s illness has changed his personality and I hate the possibility of having to live my whole life with a person who is so completely different from the person I fell in love with.” –Nate
“Yesterday, it occurred to me how crazy it is that suicide is legal, but assisted suicide is illegal. The day before that, I was dwelling on the hope my mother doesn’t live too long…” –Andres
“It would be easier to take care of my dad if he actually could still have a conversation with me. But my dad isn’t really there anymore… it’s just a shell of him.” –Harper
“I really wish I could afford to pay someone to just do all of this [caregiving] for me.” –Calvin
“I think it’s a travesty that we will readily put our pets to sleep to end their suffering, but we don’t allow that honor for our elders, who are even more aware of their suffering. It should be their choice. We may as well say prolonged torture is legal, really.” –Aisha
“What if I said no to caregiving?” –Nancy
“I’m planning to go to Morocco next week with 5 girlfriends. I really hope my mom doesn’t take a dramatic turn for the worse. In my head, I am whispering (loudly) ‘stay stable mom until I return at the end of the month’. I don’t want to say it out loud, because it sounds so darn selfish.” –Laura
“I wish this was over. I do not want to remember him like this. This person is not my Dad” –Bethanny
When asked about ‘unspeakable’ thoughts about caregiving more generally, one caregiver also shared the following:
“I consider them [unspeakable thoughts] completely normal given the situation. I’ve got a few people and a psychiatrist who I can vent to. [People] who understand that I’m venting about the constant work and anxiety and isolation; not the people I’m caring for. That helps.”
We hope that these stories from real caregivers will help other caregivers feel less alone. We hope that these quotes will help caregivers judge themselves less, and care for themselves more. If you’re taking care of someone right now and you could use some additional support and validation, join us over at CareCopilot.Co. We have an anonymous online community of diverse caregivers talking about tough topics just like this, and more.