Life after caregiving

Just as you had to adjust to being a caregiver, at some point you will need to adjust to not being a caregiver. This can take some time.

Your loved one recovers from cancer treatment. Getting used to life after treatment can be challenging in surprising ways for both the caregiver and the person with cancer. Both of you may be anxious and worried that the cancer will come back (recur). You may also have to cope with changes in your relationship. It can be hard to move on from being a caregiver and back to being a partner. And now that your loved one is healthier, you will find that you are slowly doing less and less as a caregiver. You may have been looking forward to this day, but when it comes you may find that you’ve lost a sense of purpose.

Your loved one has died. Even if you were expecting it, caregiving ends suddenly when your loved one dies. This can leave you feeling lost and unsure of life, especially if you were a caregiver for a long time. You may also feel a great sense of relief now that the caregiving is done – but this relief may also make you feel guilty.

Tips for moving forward

It can take time for life to get back to normal after caregiving has finished. For some people, it can be hard to move forward now that they are no longer caregivers. These tips might be helpful.

Make yourself a priority for a while. You may not have been taking time to live a healthy life or do the things that you enjoy. Now that caregiving is done, it’s time to put some time into your health and life.

Get ready to go back to work. If you had been taking time away from work in order to care for your loved one, getting back into a routine at work can help you get used to life after caregiving.

Reconnect with people. Often the demands of being a caregiver mean that you lose touch with some family members and friends. It can take a bit of effort to get back on track. People may not contact you because they aren’t sure how sociable you’re feeling or they don’t want to burden you. But if there is someone that you would like to see, contact them and make plans.

Get out and do things. While you were being a caregiver, you may not have had a chance to go out to a movie or for a meal or to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Now that your caregiver role is over, you can get out and enjoy some activities that you may not have had the time or energy to do before.

Begin a new hobby. Start doing something that has interested you or get back to doing hobbies or other interests that you did before you were busy caregiving.

Remember that you did the best you could at the time. Don’t feel guilty about things that you could have done differently or mistakes that you made. No one’s perfect.

Expert review and references

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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