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Monday, 08 October 2018 08:00

Saying sorry like you mean it after a caregiver blow out

Caregiver stress is real – don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you are over-reacting or shouldn’t be feeling the way you do. Full-time caregiving is demanding - physically, emotionally and mentally. Some days, you may even feel like your life isn’t your own.

Add to this concoction of stress the guilt of feeling like you’re not doing enough for your care receiver, the judgement of those who do not understand your situation and the resentment of a spouse. All of these emotions can add up over time, and all it takes is one snide remark or sarcastic comment to send you over the edge. This is especially potent if you are prone to suppressing your feelings or do not receive the caregiver respite you need.

The unlucky targets of your caregiver blowout are usually those who are closest to you, i.e. your care receiver, a spouse, a sibling or close friend. While caregiver blowouts are understandable from time-to-time, they may leave you feeling riddled with guilt and shame afterwards.

Here’s how to apologise in a genuinely heartfelt, meaningful manner:

In the heat of the moment, you may say something hurtful, spiteful or completely out-of-character. While a simple apology at the time may not seem like much, it will have to do for that moment. This is because a truly heartfelt apology takes introspection and an understanding of why you had a blowout in the first place.

First thing’s first, you could begin with saying: ‘’I am sorry. I didn’t mean what I said; it was in the heat of the moment. I think I need some time alone as I’m feeling overwhelmed.’’

But be aware that an excuse is not an apology, nor will it suffice as reason enough for your behaviour. Deep down, you will need to do some soul searching and think about how your caregiver blowout could have affected those close to you.

One of the main reasons why you direct your anger at those closest to you is because you feel ‘’safe’’ with them and know, deep down, they will forgive you. However, this is no excuse to treat them this way. If you are harbouring anger or resentment in any way, it’s important to talk about it with those concerned, instead of bottling it up. This is how caregiver blowouts happen, often directed at an undeserving target.

Once you have pinpointed the meaning behind your anger, it’s essential to approach your loved one or care receiver and apologise once again, in a sincere manner. Tell them about how you are struggling to manage your stress and need to make more time for respite care for yourself.

Ultimately, learning to talk about your emotions and find a healthy work-life balance with caregiving is utterly essential to your mental and physical health. At the end of the day, it makes you a better caregiver and makes for a better quality-of-life for all of those you care for – family, friends and spouse.

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