Grief, loss and bereavement

When you are close to a person with dementia you may go through feelings of grief and loss. Here we take a look at these feelings in more detail. 

There will be times when dementia is hard to deal with. Both the person living with the condition and those around them can feel strong emotions at any stage. When this involves grief or loss, giving yourself time and finding support will help you to cope.

What are grief, loss and bereavement?

Grief

Grief often involves strong feelings of sadness or distress, especially in response to a significant loss. It is very personal and can affect people in many different ways, including:

  • shock
  • helplessness or despair
  • withdrawal
  • anger or frustration
  • guilt
  • denial or not accepting the loss
  • longing for what has been lost
  • sadness
  • acceptance.

Some people find they even feel positive emotions, such as relief. You may feel different at different times. You might find yourself more able to deal with feelings from one day or week to the next.

For some people grief comes in stages: shock, longing for the person, anger, guilt and finally acceptance. You might find you go through these stages, or go back and forth between some or all of them.

Loss

Some people have strong feelings of losing what is important to them when a person close to them develops dementia. You may find managing these feelings harder to cope with than practical aspects of caring. Depending on your relationship with the person and your individual circumstances, you might feel that you’ve lost:

  • your relationship
  • intimacy with the person
  • companionship, support and special understanding
  • communication between you
  • shared activities and hobbies
  • freedom to work or take part in other activities
  • a particular lifestyle
  • future plans.

Bereavement

Bereavement is the death of someone important to you. It is likely to bring about strong feelings of grief and sadness. See ‘Feelings after the person has died’.

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