The Line Between Guilt and Resentment: Why Is It So Hard to Be a Caregiver?

Posted on January 7, 2022

When you start to feel resentment, you're probably giving too much. Plus, nobody wants to be resented — they can see it in your face. So take time to tend to your own needs so that you can take better care of your loved one. 

Between telling humorous stories about Leslie’s experience as a caregiver for her mother-in-law and other caregivers she's met, she draws attention to some of the critical reasons why caregiving is so tricky. Firstly try to explain why it is so hard to receive care, then discuss why it is so hard to be a caregiver. No matter how sincerely you try, you can't take away someone else's loneliness.

That's when I realized that my husband and I needed to live while my mother-in-law was dying. So she and her husband resumed their weekly dinner-and-a-movie dates, and after the second week, her mother-in-law finally said, "Go and have a good time."

Caregivers probably work more hours in a week than almost anyone else — between their "real" jobs, their caregiving responsibilities, and their immediate family responsibilities; but are vastly underappreciated.

Why is it so hard to receive care?

Being aware of the following eight points will help give caregivers a clearer perspective on what their loved one may be feeling.

  • I don't feel comfortable asking for help.
  • No one wants burdensome on others.
  • It is hard to admit to needing care.
  • I'm afraid that I'll ask and no one will be there, or I will be abandoned.
  • I don't want to lose my privacy.
  • I don't want to feel vulnerable.
  • I don't want to lose my dignity.
  • I am the giver — not the other way around.

Why is it so hard to be a caregiver?

Being aware of the following four points will help caregivers open the discussion about their own authentic and valid feelings.

It is exhausting. Whether you spend one hour or 24 hours taking physical care of your loved one each day, it is the "constant vigilance" and pressure of knowing that you may be needed at any moment that wears you out as the primary caregiver.

The guilt is overwhelming. No matter how much energy and time you spend caregiving, you may feel guilty that you're not doing more. Also, the sick and frail tend to take their frustrations out on those who care for them the best. Know that everyone's ability to care is individual, based on their relationships and experiences, to combat the guilt. Don't compare yourself to anyone else.

I never seem to have enough time. As a caregiver, you have time constraints, but you may not realize that your loved one may have a lot of time on her hands. I feel isolated. Often when a task takes up most of our time and energy, it is all we can think or talk about. 

No one understands what you're going through like a fellow caregiver. In addition, often, people shy away from being around illness or talking about sad or depressing topics. Vice versa, your loved one may feel ashamed of her condition and shy away from outside contact. Anyways, it is a good idea to seek out people in a similar situation to your own, in a formal or casual support group. 

The caregiver benediction is: A rested caregiver has more

  • patience
  • tolerance for frustration
  • of a sense of humor
  • to say and more to give.

To take care of yourself is to take care of the person who depends on you. Intend to make a different world where caregivers are the most respected people.