Managing Caregiver Guilt When Caring for a Loved One with Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure that affects close to 3,000 Americans each year. Although ongoing research is being conducted to find a cure for mesothelioma, it is still considered to be incurable. The average survival time is less than 2 years, and support from family and friends is crucial to get through the complications and treatments that come with the disease.
For many caregivers, however, overwhelm and the inability to save their loved one from mesothelioma often turns to guilt, anger and despair. Caregivers begin to ask themselves why they didn’t notice symptoms sooner, why they can’t do more, and some even ask, “why isn’t it me that is sick?” These feelings can lead the caregiver to pull away emotionally – just when the patient needs them the most.
Recognizing these thoughts as feelings of guilt, can help caregivers address the underlying issues and find more to be grateful for than to feel guilty about. Learning to appreciate everything they do as a caregiver, and realizing that sparing their loved one from the progression of the disease, and ultimately death, is not possible, can allow caregivers to reject their negative thoughts and start to focus on enjoying the remaining time with their loved one.
If a caregiver needs time off he or she should not feel guilty asking someone else to step in for a few hours. It is just as important for caregivers to take care of themselves. They cannot help their loved one cope with the challenges of mesothelioma if they are sick or worn down.
Keeping guilty feelings at bay is beneficial for both the patient and the caregiver. There is no easy way to suppress guilt, but by paying attention to the feelings it is possible to manage it.