HELP: I took care of my husband at home; he is now in a residence, and I feel lost.
I offer my condolences for the loss you are experiencing. While the phrase "I'm sorry for your loss" is most commonly associated with the death of a loved one, the situation of having a spouse who does not recognize you is an incredible loss.
The trajectory of your life with your husband may have followed this pattern: you built years of memories and adventures together, but then you started noticing early signs of memory loss and denial. You spent months or years seeking treatment and confirming diagnoses for his condition. As his needs increased over time, you gradually gave him more attention and care, to the point where you found yourself confined to your home unless there was someone who could give you a break. At some point, you may have felt anxious and guilty about placing him in a care home. Finally, you searched for a suitable private retirement residence with a memory care unit or navigated the waiting list for a long-term care home. Now that he is in a residence, you may still worry about his wellbeing, but you may also ask yourself: what should I do now?
When you reflect on it, life often prepares us for transitions like this. For instance, a pregnant woman experiences increasing discomfort as her pregnancy progresses. She may complain about sleeplessness in the last months, which prepares the couple for sleepless nights with a newborn. As children grow, they gain more independence and eventually leave the nest. They don't leave as infants when the parents' world revolves around them. Children leave gradually. However, in your case, your world gradually began to revolve around your husband's needs, and now he is no longer with you. S
o, what should you do now?
It's crucial to recognize that you are exhausted and need rest. You can allow the staff at the residence to care for your husband while you take a break. It's okay to visit and check that everything is fine, but you shouldn't spend all your time there. It may feel foreign and difficult, but you should shift your focus back to yourself. It's natural to feel lost, and you should consider that your life journey and your husband's are heading in separate paths now. You need to discover what brings YOU joy. You may recall the days when it was "our" joy, or you might not know what makes you happy now that you're older.
I am an Integral Master Coach with ten years of experience and a certified end-of-life doula. I can help you take small steps to rediscover what brings you joy. I can also support you as you work through any feelings of guilt, anguish, or depression. Learning to take care of yourself can feel foreign. It’s ok to reach out. I am based in Perth and offer in-person services to residents in nearby communities such as Carleton Place, Rideau Lakes, Westport, Smith Falls, and Merrickville.