How does one define grief? One definition that people have found helpful is this:
Grief is your reaction to what you miss that you no longer have that used to be.
Those with dementia can face compounded losses as the disease progresses. Family members also experience challenges as they watch their loved one transition in their dementia journey.
This is why understanding and coping with anticipatory grief is so important. How do we engage those living with dementia? How do we build into those who companion them as they experience these losses?
What’s different about their relationship now? Their life’s circumstances? What changes are happening for them to which we must show sensitivity?
Consider carefully each family member or care partner who is close to the person with dementia. What are they missing about that relationship?
Anticipatory grief implies that we are grieving something that hasn’t happened yet. We look ahead and fear the loss.
Even though relationships with one another are changing as a result of the disease, the current relationship is still one that is based upon the love you shared together – love that can still be offered…however it might be shared and experienced.