Of all the emotions I dealt with during my mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s—anger, resentment, sadness, grief—I have to say that guilt was probably the most prevalent. It was the one thing I felt every single day of her ten-year journey.
No matter how much I did.
No matter how much I didn’t do.
Whether it was a good day or a bad day.
The guilt never left me.
It didn’t matter how much time I spent with my mom. It didn’t matter how many things I did for her.
I would only focus on the time I didn’t spend with her or the one thing I didn’t do for her.
Although I wasn’t physically with my mom 24/7, in my mind I was. I never stopped thinking about her. I never stopped beating myself up for not having stayed another five minutes. And I never stopped feeling guilty for doing or thinking about things that didn’t involve her.
At the time, I didn’t see any other way. But now that my mom has been gone for over a year, I see things differently.
My mom wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t a perfect person and she wasn’t a perfect mother. So why did I hold myself to such an impossible standard? Why did I expect myself to be a perfect caregiver—to be a perfect daughter? Why didn’t I allow myself and my contribution to her care to be good enough?
Maybe it was because I loved her so much. Maybe it was because it hurt me to see her suffering. Maybe it was because I thought those five more minutes or that one more task would have made all the difference.
No matter the reason, I realize now that I was setting myself up for failure by always striving to be so perfect—always striving to do enough.
Friends, there is no such thing as enough. When it comes to caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, nothing will ever feel like enough. If that is your goal, you will never reach it and you will never stop feeling guilty about it.
Make it your goal to do your best on any given day, knowing that your best will vary depending on the day. There will be days you can’t do anything at all and that’s okay.
Show up for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Show up for all of the other loved ones in your life.
But friends, don’t forget to show up for yourselves, too.
Let go of the guilt.
You’re doing just fine.
* If this post resonated with you, I can help you find ways to manage your guilt. Check out my new mentoring services for Alzheimer’s daughters.
** If you liked this post, you will love my new book “When Only Love Remains: Surviving My Mom’s Battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.” It’s available on all Amazon marketplaces.