Scenario 7: Caring for yourself when a loved one dies

I have been so totally focused on caring for my husband that I don’t know what I will do now that he has died.

  • Everybody reacts differently to the death of a loved one, with possible emotions including sadness, shock, relief, guilt, anger and depression.
  • There are no rules or timelines for grieving – each person will deal with this in their own time and way.
  • Suggestions for helping you get back on your feet include:
    • Take time: The length of time needed to adjust to life changes varies from individual to individual. Be patient − don’t try to rush the process.
    • Accept assistance: Letting other people help can provide you with extra support and an opportunity to express your feelings, reflect and talk. Over time, this will help you understand and adjust to your loss.
    • Share your experience: Friends and family also benefit from the opportunity to share their feelings.
    • Write in a journal: Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help you come to terms with your grief and loss.
    • Remember the person: Many people like to talk about the person they have lost, especially in earlier times before dementia affected them. Reminiscing about happy times can help. Celebrate the person with family and friends. Many people find this helpful on birthdays or anniversaries.
    • Re-establish your social networks: Start to see old friends again or you may need to look around for new friends.
    • Keep trying: You may not feel confident at first. You may find it difficult to make decisions, chat about ordinary things or cope with social gatherings. But don’t give up. Your confidence will gradually return.
  • It may help to get professional counselling. This could be arranged through your GP. You could also get information and support from Dementia Australia by calling the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.