Experiencing The Loss of a Loved One Who Is Still Alive

person sitting on dock

A few days ago I posted about dementia on my professional Facebook page. It was evident that this is a topic that affects many people. How can it be that we grieve the loss of someone with dementia while they are still here?? I know from personal and professional experience that this is real-almost surreal. This is a very unique type of grief and loss that deserves it’s own category. Not only are people who have a loved one with dementia dealing with stressful care giving, they are trying to wrap their minds around the unpredictability and frustration that accompanies a diagnosis of dementia. Watching their person slip away before their eyes and knowing that they won’t “recover” is heart wrenching. This type of grief is experienced by care givers, friends and family twice, once as they person exists with the disease and again when they die. I wish that I had some super hopeful words of wisdom to make it all better but this is just so very difficult. One thing that is helpful is being able to appreciate the times when a moment of clarity appears and the person with dementia returns to their old self and remembers a name or memory. These are like little gifts although they may feel like a tease also. Laughter is also helpful, sometimes being able to laugh at something in the moment can alleviate some stress. What’s that old saying, “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying?” Crying has it’s place too, it can help relieve stress and force us to be in the moment. Finding a friend who will be present and listen (not try to fix it) is probably one of the most effective things you can do. If you would like to share your experience of grieving the loss of a loved one who is living with dementia, please share here. You never know, someone reading may need to hear your story…..If you would like to schedule a complimentary in person consultation with me, I can be reached at melinda@melindaruppert.com or 240-298-2442.

Published by melindaruppertlcpc

I am a licensed clinical professional counselor in Maryland specializing in grief and loss.

One thought on “Experiencing The Loss of a Loved One Who Is Still Alive

  1. This was true for me. My father had dementia. I felt like I lost him, bit by bit, over a period of about 10 years. I grieved for his loss of himself, because he knew he was losing himself. I grieved for my loss of my dad who could fix anything, had a great sense of humor, and was very knowledgeable about computers. I grieved for my children who can’t remember their REAL grandfather. I think it made the final grief a little easier, though. I had been grieving for so long and the man who finally died was only a shell of the man who was my father.

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