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The Long Goodbye: Understanding Anticipatory Grief and Dementia

When you have a family member who is suffering from dementia, it’s not unusual to find yourself experiencing sharp and sudden emotions. The gradual loss of a loved one is, in many ways, comparable to experiencing the death of someone close to you. With progressive dementia, this sense of loss is accompanied by another emotion known as anticipatory grief.

What is anticipatory grief?

Anticipatory grief is a term coined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the psychologist famous for developing the notion of the five stages of grief. It is the grieving we experience prior to the death of someone close to us, as we become aware that our loved one will leave us soon. As you notice the gradual disappearance of your family member’s mind and personality, you may begin to feel that the person you knew is already gone.

When does anticipatory grief begin and end?

The experience of anticipatory grief is different for every person. Many people begin to experience it as soon as they realize that they are losing their loved one, while others begin to grieve once their family member’s dementia symptoms have become difficult to overlook. Most of the time, anticipatory grief only ends at the death of the loved one.

Is anticipatory grief normal?

It is completely normal to experience anticipatory grief. Many people find that they have already gone through the grieving experience by the time their family member passes away, while others still feel the grief of bereavement just as vividly. Other people find that going through anticipatory grief provides them with a greater sense of closure in the end, as they are given the time to come to terms with their loved one’s death before it happens.

Avalon Memory Care offers a unique and home-like environment for our residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, while also ensuring that they are well cared for 24 hours a day. We don’t just work to provide for your loved ones’ physical needs, but for their social, emotional, and mental health needs as well. To learn more about our locations in Dallas, Houston, and Arlington, call us at (214) 752-7050.

By |2020-10-26T19:08:03-05:00January 22nd, 2018|Categories: Dementia|0 Comments

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