Identify sources of support
Having a conversation with a specialist dementia nurse who understands what you are going through and has knowledge of different services that offer support could help you with your feelings of grief and loss.
Our free Dementia Helpline is a vital source of support and can empower you to speak about your own needs.
You can also speak to your GP or other healthcare professionals, who can then signpost you to bereavement counselling or support services like Cruse Bereavement Support.
Open up conversations around death and dying with friends and family
Whether you are a professional supporting a person with dementia or a family member, you can start having gentle conversations with them about their future.
These conversations can be short, informal chats over a period of time.
You could talk about how things might look next week, or even next year, before finally moving on to discuss what care and support they might need at the end of life.
Having these conversations early can help everyone understand the person’s wishes and reduce stress around making future decisions, especially in a crisis situation where they need to be made quickly.
Asking the person with dementia, “What matters to you?” is a good way of identifying what is important to them.
Support the person with dementia with their own grief
If someone close to the person with dementia has died, try to be honest with them. They have as much right to grieve as anyone else.
Talking to the person about what has happened and giving them time to ask questions can help them feel supported during what can be a challenging process. Offer reassurance, listen to their concerns and talk about the person they are missing.
If appropriate, you could also involve the person with dementia in any funeral arrangements.
However, if the person’s dementia is more advanced, or if they are struggling to retain or process the information, this can make grieving more challenging. They may not be able to express how they are feeling, so be aware of any changes in behaviour that could signify they are struggling to cope with their grief.
If the person with dementia is becoming repeatedly distressed when the death of a loved one is mentioned, families sometimes feel it is better not to keep bringing it up and find other ways to talk about a missing relative. If you would like support with this, please call our Helpline to talk to an Admiral Nurse, who can help you find the best way forward.