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Why Does Letting Go Feel Okay?

Caregiver Question:

My father is 93 and has fought a long battle with prostate cancer. After being told he has only a few weeks to live, we admitted him to hospice. He is at a wonderful facility. They take great care of him, and it brings me such relief. However, I am so relieved that I feel guilty about it. My father is dying, and for some reason, I feel relieved. Why am I so torn by this?


Mary's Answer:

Those of us who work in hospice hear this quite frequently. It is natural to feel a bit strange, relieved and guilty all at once. Your mind is processing everything right now.

Know that it is okay to feel what you are feeling.

Until hospice is needed, people are in a curative and hopeful state of mind. Patients and family members work diligently to live life fully. Even though entering hospice care is a scary proposition, we have found that once people make the decision to accept end-of-life care, there is a certain amount of letting go that occursHospice care brings peace of mind because they offer a clearer course than the unknown.

Caregivers often feel some form of guilt in this situation, even when they have done nothing wrong. It is a normal feeling. Caregiving takes all you have physically and emotionally to manage your life and care for a parent who is declining. There are never enough hours in the day for rest or responsibilities. Handing over to someone else the caregiver duties that consumed you gives you mental and physical space, and that is okay!

Relief also comes when we know our loved ones won't suffer anymore. Remind yourself this is nothing to feel guilty about. Think of the present moment as an opportunity to be an incredible companion to your father, showering him with love and emotional support. It will still be difficult for you as your father transitions through his final days, but what has changed is that you can rest a bit. The caregivers at the hospice will take care of his physical needs.

Do your best to let the guilt you feel pass. You have done nothing wrong. The hospice team is there to help you.

I wish you the best as you take this journey with your father.


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