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):
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.
- denial /not acknowledging losses
- longing for what has been lost
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.
Here is an excellent resource 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.