Death & Dying, Life & Living

10 normal ways care partners express grief

Woman crying in room
Copyright: stokkete / 123RF Stock Photo

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 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.

Grieving the living

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8 thoughts on “10 normal ways care partners express grief”

  1. 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.


  2. 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


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