Poem – Guilt and expected death

There’s a guilty feeling the caregiver has
when their loved one dies.
Be it spouse, parent, child,
you’ve taken care of them
for a long time
and they have finally
passed on.

Nobody talks about this.
They talk about how hard it is
to take care of
someone you love
for a long time,
someone who is terminally ill.
Someone who isn’t going
to get better,
and the only cure
is the grave.

Your life is finally back
to being yours.
Your time is yours.

You should feel bad if you
didn’t
give your time
to help them
– but you did, and now it is over.

There shouldn’t be guilt
about surviving,
guilt about feeling relieved
that it is over,
guilt about being glad
your duty is done.
But there is.

You are glad for them
that they are no longer suffering,
but also glad for yourself
that you can do
what you want to do
again.

You aren’t so crass as to say
you’re glad
they are dead,
but you are.

It is a weird feeling,
made weirder
by the mixture of grief,
the exhaustion of being
an unpaid,
untrained nurse,
there 24/7.

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