I felt so guilty living my life while my mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s and my dad was overwhelmed with her care that I just simply stopped living my life.
I still feel guilty that I didn’t have to take care of her from the minute I woke up until the minute I went to sleep.
I feel guilty that I didn’t have to get up with her several times some nights to take her to the bathroom or change her underwear, pajamas, and the sheets.
I feel guilty that I wasn’t the one lying in bed next to her while she yelled and screamed for hours on end some nights.
I feel guilty that I wasn’t the one stuck in the house with her all day and all night when she could no longer go out.
I feel guilty that I don’t know the pure exhaustion, desperation, and isolation of being her full-time caregiver.
But I wasn’t her full-time caregiver.
I didn’t live with her.
I had my own house and my own family.
I helped out as much as I could for as long as I could and in the last few years, my dad had a lot of outside help.
Still, I punished myself relentlessly for their suffering.
I stopped living my life because they couldn’t live theirs.
I felt as though I didn’t have the right to enjoy anything while my mom and dad were suffering so greatly.
And you know what? It didn’t change a goddamn thing.
Punishing myself all those years didn’t alleviate their suffering. Not one bit.
But it certainly contributed to mine.
Guilt will drive you into the ground and there’s really no way to escape it. When dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, there is always something to feel guilty about.
Do what you can, when you can. Do your best with whatever your situation is. Try not to beat yourself up for not doing more, for not being there more, especially when it’s just not an option.
And certainly don’t punish yourself for your loved one’s suffering.
It won’t do anyone any good.