Caregivers, Health

It’s Important to Understand and Manage Grief

Managing grief seems to be a part of managing Alzheimer’s and the other forms of dementia. We most often think about grief when we lose someone who has passed away. Part of what makes dementia so difficult is that it feels like you’re losing your loved one while they are still with you.

Photo courtesy of Angela Hammond.

Dementia creates changes in a person that can alter their personality, demeanor and behaviors. A person may grieve losing the dreams they had planned with their life partner, as their role turns into Caregiver instead.  A person may grieve seeing their father need assistance with basic skills when that same man used to seem superhuman.

Our loved ones diagnosed with dementia are also managing grief as these changes are happening to them. They may grieve the loss of independence, as they arrive at the point when they can no longer drive or struggling to dress themselves and others are making decisions for them.

What does grief look like?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler are authors of a book, On Grief and Grieving, that establishes five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The book is intended for managing grief after death but the emotions created by any kind of loss are the same.

It can be helpful to know and understand your grief, because it can bring comfort and validation knowing your feelings aren’t wrong or bad. They are what they are. Grief doesn’t occur and then go away, it’s a process. The task is managing and continuing to move through your grief.

Angela Hammond is owner and Director of The Day Place, located in Gardendale, and a contributor to Gardendale Health.