When a loved one passes away, caregivers have to adjust to the loss of that person, and adjust to a new life that no longer includes caregiving duties. On the outside, it would seem that this would be a relief. But, this is generally not the case. Caregivers are often left feeling confused and empty as they move on and try to find their new role in life. Some feel like they have lost their sense of purpose or identity.

The grief process is a very personal experience, and each person takes a unique journey where they heal on their own timeline. There are, however, five stages of grief that people typically go through when they lose a loved one. They include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

If you recently lost a loved one that you cared for, understand that there will be additional emotions as you adjust to your new life. Things can feel a bit hollow right now, but with time comes acceptance. In the meantime, here are some ways to help you get through these hard days.

Turn to Friends and Family Members: It can be hard to turn to people who may not have done their fair share of caregiving duties or didn’t support you when you needed it. But right now, you need as much support as you can get. Find comfort in friends and family, and accept help when it’s offered. And remember that many people want to help but don’t know how. If you ask for help you will often receive it and much more.

Join a Support Group: Support groups are beneficial because they connect people dealing with the same pain. If you feel alone even with family around, join a support group where you can share your sorrow with others. You may be more comfortable letting down your guard with strangers, ironically.

Talk to a Grief Counselor: If your grief is intense, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional grief counselor who can help you work through your emotions. This is an often overlooked resource that can be a true path to healing.

Draw Comfort from Faith: If you are a person of faith, embrace comfort from your faith and the people within your spiritual community. Your belief in God can truly carry you through the darkest of times.

Keep Busy: Time is the one thing that really makes a difference in healing, so keep yourself busy as much as possible. Perhaps your parent’s home needs to be cleaned out. Maybe they have old photographs to sort through. Or, volunteer your time to elderly, children or pets. The rewards of volunteering are invaluable. Now is also a good time to do the things you were missing out on, such as catching up with friends or starting a new hobby.

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. Many people are experiencing similar pain and most are happy to talk and share with you.