Caregiving Emotions

Losses create mixed emotions for caregivers.

There are many losses a caregiver can experience that create difficult emotions, such as frustration, guilt, and fear. Learn to accept and manage them.

Using Guilt Constructively

Many caregivers experience feelings of guilt. Guilt, like fear, often does not follow the rules of logic.Guilt feelings that are ignored can add to stress and may become debilitating and undermine self-confidence. Guilt is caused by the way you evaluate your reaction to an event. As with all feelings, guilt is neither good nor bad. How you respond to your guilt feelings is important. Guilt often makes caregivers feel responsible for the care receivers. It can pressure caregivers to be persons they are not. However, caregivers can benefit from feelings of guilt if a needed change occurs. Read more on guilt.


Making Frustration Work for You

Caregiving can be a stressful and demanding role. Many people caring for a dependent adult become frustrated, resentful, or angry at one time or another. These feelings may be fleeting, or they may last for a while. Either way, these feelings can be disturbing for the caregiver. Angry feelings are okay. Anger is a healthy, normal emotion triggered by an event. Our response to angry feelings determines whether anger becomes a positive or negative force. An awareness of our first thoughts of frustration can warn us before frustration turns into anger and anger escalates. Read more about frustration.


Facing Fear

Fear is a normal emotion for caregivers. It does not always follow the rules of logic, but it is neither good nor bad. The way we handle our feelings of fear is important. Ignored or mismanaged fear can become crippling so that caregivers may become unable to cope with their responsibilities in a positive manner. Read more about fear.


Coping with Loss

Caregivers may experience many types of loss:

  • Relationship and social or recreational interaction with friends, spouse, coworkers, and children. As these relationships change or are lost, caregivers may experience many feelings of isolation.
  • Roles, identity, and sometimes occupation as the role of caregiver continues.
  • Control over personal time, freedom, privacy, future plans, and life events.
  • Well-being, including emotions, such as worry and guilt feelings, concentration, and health issues, such as lack of sleep.
  • Diminished physical capacity and death of the care receiver. 
  • Read more about coping with loss.


Grief in Caregiving

Grief is universal, yet each person experiences it in her own way. Grief is a personal response, and there are no guidelines for how long, when, and in what way a person should grieve. Behaviors and attitudes commonly found in grief are:

  • Shock, numbness, and denial
  • Disorganization and loss of control
  • Anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, and hurt
  • Guilt and regret
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Sadness, yearning, and disbelief
  • Fatigue
  • Relief and emancipation
  • Read more about grief.


After the Death

The death of someone close to you often leaves a variety of strong emotions, unresolved issues, and uncertainties about how to cope. Feelings of frustration or guilt may cause caregivers to question if they did enough or gave enough. Each person reacts to a loss in her own way. Death sometimes is a relief or release for caregivers. Think of moving through your grief, rather than getting over the loss. Read more about death.

Dealing with Frustration