Skip to main content

Losing someone you love to dementia is heartbreaking. It can take a while to process the range of emotions you may feel after their death.

Because dementia causes a decline in a person’s abilities over time, you may also find that grief hits you in ways you don’t expect. People common feel sadness for their loss and what could have been, shock, pain, anger and resentment.

You might experience disbelief or even guilt. You might even feel relief, for you and the person you cared for. That’s very normal. There’s no wrong way to feel.

Some people also find they lack purpose now that they’re no longer needed in a caring role.

Your emotions might surface now or later. Everyone goes through grief in their own way.

After the end

The period immediately after your loved one’s death can be an especially vulnerable time for you and your family and friends. It takes time to adjust to your loss, so try to:

  • be careful about making any major decisions, like selling the family home, while emotions are intense
  • accept that it’s okay to feel sad and upset, especially at special times like birthdays or anniversaries
  • get support if you need it, including talking to your doctor if you find you’re feeling depressed.

What you can do

Processing the death of someone you cared about is a very individual experience, but these are some things that might help.

  • Take some time off. Adjusting to change takes time, so be patient. Try to allow yourself the grace to lay low while you deal with your loss.
  • Accept help. People will want to know what they can do to support you. Whether it’s a coffee, meal or a walk, take the opportunity to reflect and talk about your feelings.
  • Share your experience. Your friends and family are probably also grieving. Sharing your feelings may help them too.
  • Write in a journal. Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal or diary can help you to process grief and loss.
  • Remember the person. Reminiscing about happy times is a nice way to remember your loved one. Celebrating their birthdays or anniversaries can also become a special tradition.
  • Re-establish your social networks. Relationships are important for our wellbeing, so reconnect with old friends or find ways to make new friends.
  • Look after your physical health. Sleeping enough, eating well, and getting enough fresh air and exercise can make a big difference.

Things won’t be easy at first. You might find it’s difficult to make decisions, to chat about day-to-day things or cope with social events. Keep going, and get support when you need it.

Seeking support

If you’d like to talk about your feelings or would like help coming to terms with your grief, talk to a professional or your doctor.

You can also contact the National Dementia Helpline or Carer Gateway for more information.

Share or print
Last updated
7 February 2024