by Joene Nelson Werner, Healthy Living Made Simple
“With one last breath, my life changed. I had been a 24/7 caregiver to my husband of over 48 years, and in a moment, I became a person without a cause. While my days had been consumed, leaving no time for myself, suddenly there was no responsibility or accountability to anyone or anything. A gradual beginning, an abrupt end. What does one do with the freedom that comes from losing one’s purpose?
He passed November 17 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease; the last three weeks moved like a train wreck. It happened so quickly I was left trying to wrap my mind around it. The holidays were a blur. I felt so alone and misunderstood. After several months, my mind still spiraled–no longer a caregiver, no longer a wife.
A year earlier, I tearfully shared with my Alzheimer’s caregiver support group: I’d lost me. Would I ever find the real me again? I wasn’t sure who I was, where I was or if I’d reclaim my past life. The years of caregiving with Alzheimer’s were like an out-of-body experience and upon my husband’s death, I was jolted back to reality. Caregiving consumes your identity. Unconditionally putting another first, I had become programmed. Being able to put myself first was strange. It was difficult to accept that I had my ‘me time’ back.”