Grief, loss and bereavement - managing your feelings

As someone supporting a person with dementia, you may cope well at times, and at other times feel overwhelmed by sadness or anger, or simply feel numb. Here we suggest ways of coping with some of the difficult feelings you may have. 

Some people find they feel resentful at how things have turned out and the difficulties they have to face. Some people may be shocked to find that they feel this way. Caring for a person with dementia can have a huge emotional impact, and feelings like these can be very difficult but they are a normal part of grieving.

Ask for support if you want to. It can really help you to manage your feelings. This can be difficult if there are people around you (such as friends or family members) who don’t understand your feelings or see them as significant. They may not fully see or accept the impact the person’s dementia is having on you.

It may help to talk about this with other friends or family members, or a professional. You may also find it helpful to attend a support group with other people caring for someone with dementia, or join an online community (such as Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point) where you can discuss your feelings honestly with people in similar situations. 

Talking Point
Visit our online community to get advice, share experiences, connect.

It is important to acknowledge any feelings of grief you may have. This is unique to you – there is no right or wrong way to grieve. You may find that your feelings change over time.

Tips for managing your feelings

  • If you wish to, talk about your feelings with a professional (such as a dementia support worker, dementia specialist nurse or counsellor), other carers (perhaps by attending a support group), or a friend or family member. To find professionals or support groups, speak to your GP or local Alzheimer’s Society, or visit our online directory Dementia Connect.
  • You may want to find other ways of expressing your feelings. For many people, crying helps them to express their grief. Some people find it helpful to write a journal or use art or music, for example.
  • Try to make time to do something for yourself each day. For example, going for a walk, a hand massage, chatting to friends or simply relaxing.
  • Look after your own physical and mental health – try to eat well, get plenty of rest and some exercise such as walking or swimming. Looking after your spiritual needs will help (for example, with prayer or singing).
  • If you’re feeling low or anxious, or are very tired or not sleeping, speak to your GP. For more information see factsheet 523, Carers: Looking after yourself.
  • Consider your own needs. If you feel that you need a break to help you cope, speak to someone (such as a social worker or dementia support worker) about arranging this.
  • Try to focus on the positives, such as the things that you and the person with dementia can still do together, or other interests you have.