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Should You Feel Guilty About Not Being Your Loved One’s Caregiver?

“True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is.”

– R.D. Laing

Guilt can be a funny thing. It can make us obsessive, miserable, irrational and stubborn. What’s worse, guilt is just a feeling. A feeling we conjure up ourselves either consciously or subconsciously. What’s even more confusing, is guilt can be true or false! How do you identify which is which?


These definitions can help clarify things:


False Guilt: you don’t feel responsible for the situation, you might also feel trapped or stuck, and you may be protecting someone else’s feelings.

True Guilt: you know precisely why you feel guilty, and you know you are responsible and accountable for the actions or situation.


Knowing the difference can be very helpful when you start facing feelings of guilt when you are dealing with a loved one needing more care.


In this post, we’ll share 4 familiar sources of guilt and ways you can avoid them taking a stronghold on your life.



Feeling like a failure can be awful. You may have tried your best by taking on the role of carer, and it was too much or burned you out. Or perhaps you really wanted to take care of your loved one but weren’t in a position to do so. Maybe you lived too far away, or your own family needed you more. The bottom line is you haven’t failed anyone. Decisions like these are hard to make and emotional. But knowing your boundaries and choosing what will benefit everyone means a more successful outcome. For you, your loved one, and the rest of your family.


2. Not Being There Enough

Not being around all the time is a common cause of guilt. Maybe you wish you were taking care of your loved one, and by not being there every day makes you feel guilty. Or it could be they are putting the guilt on you. Hearing things like, “I’m lonely, I don’t have anyone to talk to,” or “You rarely come to visit me” can heap the guilt on quickly. Here’s the thing. You will never be there enough. Unfortunately. But you can make the time with them meaningful and unique. If you feel that your involvement is reasonable, then you may have to tune out certain comments.


3.Taking Time For Yourself

Slowing down seems to be an invitation for your thoughts to start running amuck.

Consider this: you finally have a moment to yourself, you put your feet up, close your eyes, and then your mind shifts to thinking about all the things you “should” be doing.

And just like that, your moment of peace is instantly replaced with guilt. One way to deter your brain from hijacking your quiet time is to write down one or two things you can practically do for your loved one with a date and time.

Also remember if you don’t slow down and take care of yourself, you could end up resentful, cranky and sick. Keep the peace and give yourself a break.


4. Losing Your Patience

Memory loss, irritability, irrational thoughts, anger, slowness,  – these are all things that can try your patience. It’s okay. Changes in behaviour, especially ones that came fast and unexpected, can be hard to manage. Losing your patience can set off an unfortunate chain of reactions that include anger and guilt. Neither of which serve any useful purpose. You can’t change the situation, but you can change how you operate within it. If losing your patience is a regular occurrence, then it may be a sign you need a break, more rest or more help.


Why Some Guilt Is Ok

Feelings of guilt aren’t always bad. They are internal indicators signalling when we’ve done something wrong and needed to take ownership of our actions. It keeps us on track and can be helpful. But recognising when feelings of guilt are helpful or harmful takes differentiating between which ones are false or true.


If you are struggling with feelings of guilt because of care needs, we can give you some solutions. Give us a call on02392 704 190 or use this form, we’d love to talk with you about the options available.


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