The Heart of Caregiving: Adjusting to Life After Loss

Each member of Sound Generations’ Caregiver Support Program is or has been a caregiver to an older adult or adult child, creating a valuable shared experience among Advocates and those who seek their assistance. In this ongoing series—The Heart of Caregiving—our staff, volunteers and others share their personal caregiving stories and the insights learned along the way.

The following story comes from staff member Daria Sawochka, who said, “the inspiration came from a family I am familiar with who is trying to allow life to unfold as their family constellation changes.”

“It’s been just a little over six months since her husband passed away, leaving this woman, married for sixty-two years, to figure out what comes next. It seems that for so long, she has tended to the needs of others: the kids, pets, extended family and her husband’s late life health challenges. Now, at eighty-four years-old, what does she even want? Is this even knowable? She’s not sure.

She recently got back from a two-month visit with her daughters who both live over 2,000 miles away. She thrived having company and conversation each day and started to get used to sharing meals once again. She said that being with family remedied one of her greatest challenges–too much alone time.

Her well-meaning daughters have invited her to live with them, but she is hesitant. She knows this decision will change their lives and hers. She is becoming aware that her memory is not as good as it used to be and she tires more easily these days…yet she hesitates. Weary of yet another big life change? Perhaps. But it’s more than that. If she were to move, something deep inside of her feels like she would be leaving something important behind. But what is it?

She’s the last of her family. The youngest of ten, her parents have passed away as have all of her brothers and sisters and their spouses. Her closest friends are all gone too. But what is it that’s keeping her rooted to this place? Her husband was cremated and rests in a beautiful urn near her bed. She even found a “travel urn” and took him with her on her recent visit. It’s not that. Is it a timing thing? Is it simply not time for a cross-country move? Maybe. She hasn’t even gone once around the seasons without her beloved yet.

Something seems to be telling her that this chapter of her life, in this place, is not yet finished. Not complete. There is something more to come, waiting for just the right moment to reveal itself to her. For now, she is choosing to pause and she will not be rushed. She has an instinctual belief that when the time is right, she will know. In the meantime, she lets the feelings from her trip wash over her, the feeling of loving and being loved.

“What a gift,” she says. “To have such problems of being truly wanted by her family.”

She smiles, thinking back to the countless conversations she had with her husband about their good fortune in having such great kids. And just for today, that is enough.”

If you or someone you know could benefit from this kind of conversation, give Sound Generations a call at 206.448.3110. You can also email Trained staff will guide you forward to the Caregiver Support Program. We are stronger together.