Fewer things in our lives will be more difficult than losing a loved one. But when dementia starts to take someone, it is difficult to know how to grieve. Grief and dementia are intertwined. Even though dementia’s progress is slow, it is still not enough time for many to process.
The grief process, therefore, needs to happen while the person is still alive. At least, some of it. Coming to terms with the disease and what it is doing will help you move forward.
Grief and Dementia
Everyone grieves in their own way. When someone dies suddenly, the grieving begins right away. When someone has an illness, like cancer, it starts when we find out. The same thing happens with dementia.
Trying to care for someone with dementia and keep your emotions in check will not be easy. The problem with dementia patients is that they have very bad days and some very lucid days.
While we start to mourn our loss when we are told about the dementia diagnosis, the grieving process is not straightforward. We may have glimmers of hope when they recognize us. We may feel relief when they seem to take a turn for the worse.
Even once you have accepted the outcome, it doesn’t make it any easier to cope. We feel anger, fear, deep loss, guilt, happiness, and so much more, even on the same day. Grief and dementia go hand in hand.
You may feel happy to be sitting with your mom, and deep sadness at her situation, all at the same time. It can be a very confusing and frustrating period that lasts a long time.
Coping With Grief and Dementia
One of the best ways forward is to acknowledge your feelings. All of them. You are going to go through a lot of them, and all too often, on top of each other. Go ahead and let them out.
Finding ways through is healthy and will help you cope much better. Cry, kick things, swear, be angry, be sad, feel them all. You will find a sense of relief when you do.
Share The Grief
It is not uncommon to feel frustrated and angry, but that is okay. You are being robbed of your loved one, but they don’t know it. You and your family are all going through the same thing together, so share it with them.
It’s important to understand that you are not alone in the journey. Even if you are the only close family member, consider reaching out for support elsewhere. There are plenty of places where you can talk to people who are going through the same thing. Grief and dementia are common and all families experience this.
Avoid Guilt Trips- This is Common with Grief and Dementia
It’s all too common for people to take on much emotional baggage that comes from someone living with dementia. Recognize it for what it is and learn to let it all go.
Don’t play the ‘if only’ game. It will always win. Your past is what it is and it is what shapes you. Don’t feel bad about not visiting or calling enough. All families go through their own turmoil. Your situation is unique to you.
Do not feel bad for wishing it was all over. You are not wishing someone to die. You really want them to be out of pain. You want and need that for yourself, as well. It’s common and perfectly natural.
Keep Your Old Life
Of course, your life will change, but keep the things you enjoy. Keep the girl’s night out, take the kids to ball practice, keep going to yoga or ceramics. This will give you a sense of normalcy that rarely exists any longer.
Seeing friends and family and talking about anything else will allow you a much-needed escape. Take it, enjoy it, and do not feel bad about enjoying yourself.
You won’t fully be able to grieve until they pass, and that in itself will make you feel bad. Try to enjoy the time you have left with them. Tell them about your day, show them pictures of the kids or the new puppy, and mostly, take care of yourself.
Grief is a process that we all share yet handle completely differently. Your journey will be unique to you.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation.
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!