Objective: To understand the multiple and sometimes conflicting roles substitute decision makers (SDMs) of individuals in a vegetative state (VS), minimally conscious state (MCS), or with locked-in syndrome (LIS) perform while caring for a loved one and the competing priorities derived from these roles. Methods: We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews using a constructive-grounded theory design. Twelve SDMs, who were also family members for 11 patients, were interviewed at two time points (except one) for a total of 21 in-depth interviews. Results: Participants described that caregiving is often the central role which they identify as their top priority and around which they coordinate and to some extent subordinate their other roles. In addition to caregiving, they participated in a wide variety of roles, which were sometimes in conflict, as they became caregivers for a loved one with chronic and complex needs. SDMs described the caregiver role as complex and intense that lead to physical, emotional, social, and economic burdens. Conclusion: SDMs report high levels of burdens in caring for a person with a prolonged disorder of consciousness. Lack of health system support that recognized the broader context of SDMs lives, including their multiple competing priorities, was a major contributing factor.