The Heartbreaking Loss, Grief, and Bereavement of Alzheimer's Disease
Memory loss is heartbreaking, and excessive memory issues disrupt the lives of the one who suffers, their family and their caregivers. Alzheimer’s is real. It seems unthinkable that a loved one could remember someone like their daughter one day and the next morning look at them blankly.
Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain causing memory declines, thinking abilities, and reasoning skills. While diagnosed in its advanced stages, Alzheimer's does have a few warning signs and symptoms.
It is okay to have feelings of loss and grieve as your loved one changes with Alzheimer’s. Seek support the minute you start feeling grief; there are ways to cope that will help you take care of the situation.
Alzheimer's takes away the person you know. It is almost like they have left their body and are now just a shell. The phases of grieving – denial, anger, guilt, sadness and, finally, acceptance are the stages you will go through.
These stages are defined as:
- Denial means hoping this is temporary, expecting the person to get better, and acting normal on the outside but crying on the inside.
- Anger is natural. You are frustrated with the person and begin to resent taking care of them. You resent family members who will not provide care and help you, and you feel abandoned.
- Guilt is a familiar feeling. You begin to think of things you should have done for your loved one. You feel bad because you enjoy life, and you have negative thoughts about your responsibilities. You regret your previous relationship, and you place unrealistic demands on yourself.
- Sadness is feeling overwhelmed by loss. Crying frequently. Withholding emotion or being more open than usual. Staying away from connecting more with others.
- Acceptance means learning to live in the moment, finding personal meaning in caring, understanding how to grieve, appreciating the personal growth, and keeping your sense of humor.
Learning ways to cope
Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is almost like watching them die over and over. The most important thing you need to do is take care of yourself. Next, maintain a sense of humor; it is releasing. Then finally, get rid of the guilt.
Think about all your feelings and let yourself be as sad as you want. Work through anger and frustration and know that it is okay to be angry, yet love the person unconditionally at the same time.
Be prepared to lose your loved one more than one time. As Alzheimer’s progresses, it is usual to go through losses all the time.