Barbara Garwood: A Caregiver’s Life

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2017


In our lifetime we will all encounter grief. There are many types of grief, and they all involve loss – loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a relationship, loss of a beloved pet, loss of what makes us ourselves.

Perhaps the most complex loss is when we grieve for someone who is still with us but is no longer able to be the soul mate we married or the parent who has provided us with guidance and wisdom throughout our lives. Instead, they live on as a new version of themselves that requires a much different piece of us as their caregiver.

What do we do with our grief, and how do we keep going? How do we cope? Experts have identified seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, and acceptance. Grieving is very personal, and each individual grieves at their own pace and in their own way.

It is important that we not judge someone who grieves differently than we do or whose grief seems to pass quickly or last for years. Notice that I did not say “too quickly.” “Too” imparts judgement that is not fair to the person grieving. Remember that they are doing the best they can to work through this very complex emotion.

Whatever type of grief you may be experiencing and wherever you are in the process, realize that you do not have to continue alone. If you already have a support system in place, you are blessed. If you don’t, it is important to build one. Friends, family members, clergy, and co-workers can help ease the burden of grief. If you do not feel your support system is strong enough to carry you through, there are resources available in our community to lift you up, help you work through the emotions you are experiencing, and find a way to continue.

Locally, Rowan Hospice and Palliative Care has grief counselors who are experts in helping people process their loss. According to Susanna Lund, licensed professional counselor with Rowan Hospice, we have just passed through what she calls “the Bermuda Triangle of grief – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.” Per Lund, “This is not the time to be a Lone Ranger. The more support, the better.” Rowan Hospice offers monthly grief support groups which meet in Salisbury, and they also have an upcoming six-week group session beginning Feb. 21 for people who have lost a partner or spouse. Both the monthly support group and the six-week session are offered at no cost; however, registration is required. For more information, call Ms. Lund at 704-637-7645 or 336-331-1348.

For those who are caring for a loved one with dementia and are grieving the loss of the person who “was,” there is the Alzheimer’s Support Group of Rowan County. This group is facilitated by Lutheran Services Carolinas and meets monthly on the Trinity Oaks campus. For more information about this group, call Teresa Dakins at 704-603-2776.

If you are more comfortable seeking help online, the AARP offers an online resource called Coping with Grief and Loss. To access their site, go to You will find a wealth of information that is both practical and emotionally supportive, and I highly recommend it.

If you are overcome by grief, please do not set up residence there. Grief is not a place to live; rather, it is a place to pass through with comfort from those close to you and those who are professionals in helping people with the journey.

I encourage you to take advantage of the resources available in our community to help you find your way.

Barbara Garwood is a transitional care coordinator for Lutheran Services Carolinas. For more information about caregiving, please call Trinity at Home at 704-603-2776.

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