Caregiver Corner: Grief and Loss

Grief and LossIf you are a caregiver, you can expect to have feelings of loss and grief as your life and the person you love are changed by Alzheimer’s disease.

These feelings are difficult, but they are normal. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. If your grief is so intense that your well-being is at risk, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your doctor or a professional counselor.

Symptoms of grief:

  • Denial that your loved one is ill.
  • Periods of helplessness, despair and depression.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Feelings of anger or frustration with the person with Alzheimer’s and with caregiving tasks.
  • Withdrawal from social activities, friends, family and the person you care for.
  • Throughout the grieving process, guilt can be a prevalent feeling for caregivers.

Guilt can be related to:

  • Thinking you could have done something differently.
  • Being able to enjoy life while your loved one may not.
  • Feelings that you have failed, especially if your loved has been placed in a nursing home.
  • Negative thoughts about the person with the disease “” wishing that his or her suffering would come to an end.
  • Conflicts with family members because they are uninvolved or critical of the care that’s being provided.
  • Unrealistic expectations that you place on yourself and thoughts that “I must be perfect” or “I must do everything.”

Ways you can cope with grief and loss:

  • Accept and acknowledge your feelings. They are a normal part of the grieving process.
  • Talk to others. Share feelings with family and friends. You may want to talk with a professional who specializes in grief counseling.
  • Call the Alzheimer’s Association anytime at 800.272.3900 and speak to our care consultants who can help you work through your feelings. Or, consider attending a local Association support group meeting or joining our online community where you can receive support from other caregivers.
  • Do things you enjoy. Caregivers often give up enjoyable activities and companionship. Make a lunch or movie date with friends. Taking a break may help you relieve stress and grief, and strengthen your support network.
  • Learn to feel comfortable accepting and celebrating good things in your life.
  • Find ways to forgive yourself.

Find more information about how to cope with grief, loss and mourning at

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1 Response

  1. Marcy says:

    This is one of the most poignant, helpful articles I have read throughout my mother’s illness. She is end stages now, starting hospice care tomorrow, and I can relate to every bullet point in the article. I feel like there is another tsunami of grief headed my way as she fades away…..

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