Death & Dying, Hope, Spirituality

7 ways to honour living and dying with dementia

Dame Cicely Saunders live until you die

I love this beautiful quote by Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement. It captures what I wish for my care partner, myself and for all us: to live until we die, and to die in peace when the time comes.

Here are seven ways to honour those living and dying with dementia:

1) know with certainty that they there, always, until the very end and beyond. It may be more difficult to see past the external manifestations of the disease, but it’s even more critically important to let them shine.

2) respect their rights, especially the right to express themselves in whatever way they can – an angry word, a piece of resistance or a single breath may embody the experiences or wisdom of a lifetime.

3) listen carefully using all your senses, including your sixth sense, to connect with their soul and their spirit; let your broken heart be an open heart.

4) love them for who they are now, don’t waste a moment wishing they were somebody they were once upon another time.

5) celebrate their life while they’re still living, even as you grieve their imminent departure. Remember there will be plenty of time for mourning when they’re gone.

6) smile readily, laugh lightly, sing sweetly, touch gently, experience freely, hold tenderly, love boundlessly, and perhaps most important, let go gracefully.

7) understand the loss is in us.

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13 thoughts on “7 ways to honour living and dying with dementia”

  1. I have been promoting the importance of the GP to attend the dying to treat vitals to sustain life as far as possible if the patient is without pain. Currently the dying are dismissed with morphine and the possibility of a few more days or even weeks is important., We need a campaign with Medicare.


  2. A woderfully affirming list. Thanks Susan for sharing it as you never know what chords are struck by gentle reminders like this. My favourite was about not missing the person who once was. My father is 94 plus and was high achiever all his life. He still is a high achiever in my eyes as I rejoice in the times we share from eating fruit brought from home to cut up with him watching to rejoicing when he has a run of good days and sends his love during our nightly phone calls.


    1. Good for you Carol! That’s exactly the kind of attitude that makes being a
      care partner a joy rather than a burden.

      Bless you and your Dad ❤


  3. What a wonderful list, and a badly needed reminder in these troubled times. Thank you for re-posting on Twitter Susan.


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