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10 normal ways care partners express grief

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Grief and grieving are part of the human experience. Sadly, but naturally, they are also part of every dementia care partner’s journey. Nevertheless, grief need not blind us to possibility.

Care partners and people with dementia may grieve many aspects of living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias such as the loss of (among other things):

  • capacity
  • relationship
  • communication
  • lifestyle
  • freedom

Ultimately, we all deal with the eventual loss of the people we love when they die. We can ourselves and them a a great service by accepting them and not grieving them in the path that leads to death. Many find comfort remembering that loss is in us, and to think of their loved ones as spiritually present which Mary Elizabeth Frye  expressed so beautifully in the poem Do Not Stand by My Grave and Weep.

The shockwaves of griefGrief may manifest for people in different ways including:

  • helplessness
  • despair
  • withdrawal
  • anger
  • frustration
  • guilt
  • denial /not acknowledging losses
  • longing for what has been lost
  • sadness
  • acceptance

 

While all of this may be extremely painful, and for some seemingly unbearable, it’s also normal.

Like other emotions, grief serves a purpose, part of which I believe is to help us cope in the moment and eventually heal in the fullness of time.

Helpful resources

Here are some excellent resources on grief and grieving for dementia care partners:

Grief, loss and bereavement: a comprehensive Alzheimer’s Society piece covering various aspects  of the grieving process from several perspectives; includes a downloadable PDF.

Give  grief space to breathe: a free one-hour webinar with Mike Good of Together in This and grief coach Kim Adams; includes an emotional awareness worksheet as well as downloadable audio and PDF.

Open discussion on grief: Mike and I and grief coach Kim Adams share our thoughts and those of listeners in a half hour chat to help you cope with grief. Join us the first Tuesday of each month for similar thought-provoking and helpful conversations.

Grieving the living

 

9 Comments

  1. Great post, Susan. I don’t think anyone can truly understand this awful disease unless it touches their lives in some way. There is so much grieving to do and it is hard to share with someone that doesn’t understand your grief. God bless you- you are doing a real service with your posts. xo Diana

  2. Wonderful post, Susan. I truly never understood grief until I watched my mom slowly succumb to this horrific disease. Grief, much like the disease itself, manifests itself differently in all of us. Perhaps that’s what makes it such a mystery. No one can tell us how to feel, how long to feel that way, or what we can do to get through the grieving process. Those answers are as unique as every individual… and they lie within us and no one else.

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