I am unable to move my Facebook blog to this site so if you get an opportunity, please let me know your thoughts.
General discussion: what is the grief of persons with dementia including nonfinite loss and anticipatory mourning as it is experienced in early stages and during the progression of the disease.
My thoughts: nonfinite loss is defined as 'grief that persists and changes as aspects of peoples lives continually fall short of expectations 'from a book by Bruce and Schultz. So with each loss a Person with Dementia who is aware for the most part, mourns these losses. Kubler/Ross identified in their work, five stages of grief that could be considered to be denied, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Persons with dementia through these stages often, sometimes more that one stage on a daily schedule. The Comox Valley Hospice Society states that healthy anticipatory mourning is critical because it allows one's partner and family and friends to have the opportunity to be involved in the process of grief. It allows us to 'live until we die' while mourning future loss. Included in this ongoing process is the Person with dementia, their partner or care giver/family members and friends or those who are concerned. Making peace with ourselves and those we care about are the benefits to nonfinite and anticipatory mourning.
Recognize changes in my behaviour (as a person with dementia) that may be indicative of grief and describe therapeutic technigues that can be used effectively, including reminiscence and ritual.
My response: Despair, anger, withdrawl are some of the symptoms of grief. Persons with dementia often look for practical, yes practical, methods of therapy. We all understand the benefits of music but frequently we are unable to use our CD players or other technical devices to find the music. Perhaps writing a letter may be great therapy but often we are unable to do this task, even using a keyboard becomes very difficult. A memory box, a family quilt, a fidget blanket, old magazines from the time period we are cognitively in, and watching old movies of out time, can be helpful. Being outdoors, touching the earth, flowers and grass can be very therapuetic keeping out spiritual essence alive.
How can we support families as they navigate changes in the relationship and transitions in care as the disease progresses and understand the potential grief reactions brought about by these changes?
My suggestions Perhaps some good ideas for supporting a person with dementia or a caregiver or partner we could take the person with dementia out for a drive. Maybe the caregiver would like a couple of hours of respite, massages, pedicures, a stimulating chat. Could we do the weekly laundry, take over a casserole, Cleaning the bathrooms or vaccuming, mowing the lawn or picking up some groceries. The gift of friendship is different to all of us but 'being available' is so important. Leonardo Da Vince - sometime around the early 1500s said: "knowing is not enough we must apply."
Can you describe innovative ways of supporting family caregivers exhibiting grief reactions throughout the illness as well as after the death of the person with dementia,, noting factors that compound grief, including guilt, ambivalence and relief.
C.S, Lewis said. "Bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love." If you hadn't loved the person, this overwhelming sorrow wouldn't be part of your experience. Other emotions such as guilt are part of the process but not as healthy so wallow a bit and then get over it. You did the best you could do with the tools and skills you had. Everyone says it takes time - what a cliche. True however. Give yourself permission to grieve the way you need to grieve Forgive yourself for real or imagined thoughts - for instance my daughters and I still blame my late husband for not being around to see some special family event. This is our way of using humour, It works! The longest loss requires us to give and to take, to laugh and to cry, to wallow and to be ambivalent. And, yes, it can be a relief! A dual edged sword! Seems unholy to admit to having relief but it is a deserved emotion just like all the others. Accept it and get on to healing yourself. Certainly, when my end comes, although I probably won't be able to express it - It will be my desire.