I wanted to share something with those that might benefit. This was a journal
prompt I chose to embark on three months after my loss. It was during some of my most
anguished moments in my own grief. I could not bear the constant nagging thoughts I
was having and knew I needed to try to move through them in a more active way. I did
not write to “fix” my grief, we all know that’s not possible, but in an attempt to
stand in a space that felt more manageable. I wrote in an effort to lay to rest
the argument I kept having with myself that was depleting me on a daily basis and
acting as an obstacle to my healing. The idea of sharing this secret beyond the pages of
my journal was scary and I’m not going to lie, this was hard for me to revisit. But that is
proof of how powerful this exercise was. It truly allowed me to rectify the argument and
move forward, so much so that I had forgotten how hard the struggle was until I
reopened my journal. I hope this helps some of you, and I encourage you to write some
of those deep thoughts you probably don’t share with others.
Write a letter to the emotion that has had the most impact in your grief, just as you
would write a letter to a person.
• Tell the emotion how it has made you feel at different times and in different situations.
• Tell it about the impact it is having on your life right now.
• Explain to the emotion how you feel about it.
• Explain the things that you understand about your relationship with the emotion and the things that confuse or scare you about your relationship with that emotion.
• Close the letter by telling the emotion what you want the future of your relationship.
How dare you come stomping into my life! You have made me feel like a bad person.
On the days after fighting mom and her disease (diaper changes), you first showed your
face. Teasing me with the idea of what it would be like once she was gone. You teased
me on the days when I couldn’t go see my daughter play soccer because I had to stay
home and care for Mom. You stole my thoughts and projected them a year in advance.
You made me wonder how much easier things would be once my caregiving task was
done. Then you made your big debut when I was able to go on vacation due to respite
care for Mom. You made a big impression, and I almost forgot for a week that I was a
caregiver. You cast a spell on me to the point where I barely called to check up on Mom
while I was away.
Dear relief, I hate you because you made me like you. Liking you meant I was a bad
person. Liking you meant giving up on mom. Liking you meant I’d also have to get
chummy with GUILT. Liking you meant losing mom. You impact my life almost every
day. To be relieved that caring for mom is over is a massive contradiction. How can I be
sad, depressed, have no motivation AND be relieved all at the same time. You cause an
internal argument in my head I can’t silence.
I suppose I understand on some level you must be a part of my life. After all, I’m only
human. Taking care of mom 24-7 was a big task. It changed my life in a very big way. I
suppose it’s natural to feel relief when things go back to “normal.” My normal will never
be the same BY THE WAY.
I just don’t like the push/ pull that is happening by having you around. I always have
guilt associated with our relationship. It scares me to let you in. Allowing you to be a part
of my life actually represents happiness in a twisted way. But it also represents
abandonment. It upsets me that, to let you in, to be happy, to start living among others,
means I abandon my caregiving role, and consequently abandon my mom.
Dear relief, I guess I could make things better on myself and kick you to the curb.
Then all the conflict and guilt would go away. But in doing that, I’m abandoning
something bigger, the journey. My journey as caregiver changed me forever. It changed
me in a good way. My journey as a caregiver is leading me somewhere I feel I need to
be. It’s all still very cloudy and unknown, but it is a strong invisible force pulling me
forward. Recognizing all journeys have a beginning and an end, I hate admitting the end
of my caregiving journey does indeed represent relief. I must find a way to embrace
the idea that my mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s is over. Though this is a sad thought,
because it means she’s gone, it also means her suffering is over.
So, no matter how much I loathe you at times, and hate the inner conflict you cause,
I’ll keep space for you. After all, learning to live with you is much better than having my
mom live with Alzheimer’s. Not being able to think, walk, talk, feed herself, seems far
Dear relief, I will make the ultimate sacrifice for my mom and I will bear the
burden of our continued tumultuous relationship. I will do this for my mother’s relief and
for her freedom from a horrible disease.