During the time prior to my father’s death, I spent two years caring for him 24/7, and one year taking him to his doctors’ appointments while my younger sister cared for him. Now that he’s gone, I find that I have a large chunk of mental energy that has been freed.
Because I started thinking about his death back in 2010 when my ex and I first started caring for him, I felt very calm and collected when he was admitted to the ICU. It definitely helped me to decide about what direction his care should take. He and I had had several conversations about what he wanted in his final days that I was able to take the burden off my sisters’ shoulders. When it seemed that he had come to useful treatment that last day of his life, I decided to switch him to comfort care, and he died peacefully and without suffering the next day.
But now that he is gone, all of that carefully prepared mental structure I built has crumbled around me. A strange mix of grief and relief has taken over in my mind. The two feelings seemingly war with each other, and I feel somewhat distraught at feeling relieved. The relief is not happiness, but it sets off the same kind of response to his death.
I know in my head that these feelings are all normal, so I suppose I shall have to learn to live with them without feeling guilty about feeling relieved.