Grieving the loss of a loved one who has been living with Alzheimer’s can be difficult. Often times, the grieving process begins long before a person passes away as we see their physical presence go unchanged while their inner-self unravels little by little. It is a type of grief that consists of multiple losses and intensifies over time – culminating with the final loss of death itself.
Feelings of guilt can be common
Because this ongoing process can be so arduous (59% of caregivers feel on call 24 hours a day), research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that over 70% of people who have a loved one with dementia feel a sense of relief when that person dies.
Experiencing these emotions can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, but it is normal to feel such relief. It in no way indicates a lack of respect for a loved one who has died. In fact, the relief felt is often times connected to the person who died and an understanding that they are no longer suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s and are in a better place.
Take time to grieve
After the loss of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is vital that you take all the time necessary to grieve. Emotional reactions may include sadness, shock and pain, anger, emotional numbness, and an inability to accept the situation. Some may feel difficulty adjusting to life without their loved one – especially if they played the role of caretaker and invested so much time in that person’s well-being. If you are experiencing these difficulties, or if you have become depressed, it is important to connect with someone you trust and share your feelings with them. This is especially true during the holiday season.
At some point, when you feel you have grieved appropriately, it will be time to return to normalcy. Going to work, plugging back into your social circles, attending to church, getting involved in your favorite hobbies again, volunteering – these are all good steps to take.
If you are currently caring for a loved one with Dementia and looking for help, or if you have recently experienced loss and have questions, we would be honored to help walk you through your journey. Simply visit www.primroseretirement.com for more info.