Photo provided by Tyra Oldham

By Dr. Tyra Oldham

Caregivers are tasked with an important responsibility to care for another person. This responsibility, especially when caring for an elder and loved one, offers a unique experience involving the mind, body, and spirit. The task is challenging, yet there will be a day when this role is no longer needed. One aspect of care is inevitable that life will come to an end. The caregiver places a lot of love, time, and energy into caring for another. But the reality is that caring for someone has a time frame for some a facility is required to support the additional care needed. The other way is this person’s time on this earth has expired, and it’s time to say goodbye. No one wants to think of death, but in life, there is the certainty of an expiration date. My dear friend lost her mother on Christmas Day After a short battle in the ICU. 

When I called to learn about her mother’s status, she said, ” Tyra, I have bad news. My friend had never said my name like that before, and I knew then and there that she was gone. I felt her mother would probably not survive her hospital stay; it was my job as a friend and a caregiver to support my friend no matter the outcome. My dear friend shared her mother died on Christmas day. My heart broke as I could imagine the pain she was experiencing while continuing to be mindful of the following steps required for her mom and brother. 

I told myself to refrain from saying those things people say while understanding that some words do not comfort the person who just suffered a loss. So, what I shared with my friend was the following “Your mother knew how much you loved her. And you are a good daughter to her.” I asked, “Is there anything I can do for you.” It’s sad when the caregiver loses the person they care for because it is not just the death but all the time involved that is no longer required. 

Caregivers are blessed to care, and yet their role is finite. After the loss, grieving has to occur in its way. Next, caregivers are required to manage the final stage of care, which is to deliver their loved one to their final resting place (burial or cremation). Afterward, caregivers must care for themselves and allow time to grieve and release. Take a breath and breath. The sadness and work of letting go is now the caregiver’s new job. The new role of letting go allows one to mourn the loss while managing the feelings friends and family is experiencing. 

It is hard to say goodbye, but planning can help. The opportunity to plan with your loved one. The planning is a blessing and helpful in the end. Ask your loved one how, where, and what type of going home (funeral) they desire. My advice is to care with love and plan for the day to say goodbye. What are the steps to saying goodbye:

1. Have a will stating how your loved one wishes their assets and materials to be shared.

2. Have a burial or cremation plan in place.

3. Start their obituary in draft form to share the life of your loved one on paper for yourself, your family, and others. 

4. Have a communication tree plan of who and how the news will be shared.

5. Consider the going home day. What are the things, words, music, foods, or protocols of the day? 

6. If the loss is too much seek support. Support can be helpful to next steps and recovery form the loss.

6. The last thing a caregiver has is hope and prayers. Yet, the caregiver is not in control but manages the day-to-day, so in the end, each person has their faith, memories, and knowledge of how they cared, and hopefully, this gives solace in saying goodbye. 

I send you peace and blessings for all who have experienced a going home. May your days be blessed for the care your shared. 

For more information on care support and caregiving advice, write or email the “Care Corner.” Want to discuss care? Care Corner is that place to talk care, address questions for current and potential caregivers, and provide suggestions on agencies, services, and tips to assist in a care journey. (Read more of the article from the Herald Newspaper– subscribe now

The Care Corner is for everyone, no matter their age or process in care. For more information on caregiving, send your questions to Care Corner at the Cincinnati Herald or via email at

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