We were contacted by a lady called Lynne who had read Sue’s story in the Autumn aspects. Lynne recognised Sue and had lost touch with her for a number of years. The two have since got in contact again via CASS and have arranged to meet up, which is fantastic to hear!
Lynne also asked a question about what happens when you are no longer a carer. What options are open to you? We felt the best people to put this to is you… our readers.
Here’s Lynne’s story…
I was wondering if any carers would care to share their experiences of life after caring. I
have been a carer for my daughter Brittany who has Downs Syndrome for 24 years. She went away to residential college at 18 for 3 years and we coped with that as she came home every 6 weeks – the respite was very welcome. She had been back living in the family home with my husband, my older daughter and myself for the past 3 years.
My older daughter bought a n apartment and moved out in January and Brittany moved out into supported living with 3 friends in September.
Most of our children grow away from us gradually as they mature and start spending longer times away from the family home, so their final departure is easier; but when Brittany moved out – all the physical caring I did for her stopped suddenly and left a huge void in my life.
For years I wished for a tidy house and a bit of peace and quiet, some respite not so much
from the caring but more from the endless paperwork, form filling a nd appointments. Well, I’ve got my wish a nd I hate it. I feel like half of my identity has been taken from me (I very much identified myself by my career outside of the home, a nd by my caring role). I’ve come to realise I liked being identified as a carer – it gave me a starring role – other people complimented me on what a marvellous job I was doing – I was centre stage! Plus my daughter is a charmer a nd very sociable – if we don’t know anyone when we arrive, they certainly know us when we leave!
I suppose this acute empty nest syndrome has also come at a difficult time in my life
– I’m in my late 50s and the thought of retiring also terrifies me – I’m not a young mum anymore with all my life before me – most of it is behind me, and it’s gone in the
blink of a n eye.
I almost feel bereaved; I’ve suffered anxiety and depression; the house doesn’t feel like
a family home anymore – there are empty drawers and cupboards, the freezer and fridge are half empty – no pizzas for when the kids wanted snacks; we don’t need to bulk buy toilet rolls and baked beans anymore. And it isn’t only my daughter I’m missing – we had her PAs in the house first thing in the morning and late afternoon – I miss the contact with them. I get up in the morning to silence, the house is exactly the same when I get home as it was when I left.
I know Brittany is going to have a marvellous independent life and it’s the right thing to do – we need to distance ourselves from her so that when we do eventually die, it won’t be too traumatic for her – by then we’ ll be a smaller part of her life and everything else in it will remain constant.
I’ve read a little about empty nest syndrome and know the sort of strategies I should be
adopting to get through this time – taking up a hobby, travelling, spending time with my husband, but I’d welcome other carers’ experiences on how they got through this disconcerting period of their lives.