Everyone copes with grief and loss in different ways.  Many people report feeling numb after an initial tragedy or loss.  But the emotions that come after that can be varied and unique.  Some of the feelings people experience after loss are denial, disbelief, confusion, anger, shock, sadness, yearning, despair or guilt.  You may cycle through the stages of grief fairly linearly, or you may be all over the place, jumping from one stage to another, never knowing what to expect.  

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or if you’ve lost someone to Alzheimer’s disease, you know the specific grief that goes along with memory loss and confusion and having to find an assisted living home for this person you love so dearly.  It takes time to fully absorb the impact of losing someone you loved, but the pain does ease after time, and though your life will always be different than it was, it will be beautiful again, just in a unique way.  

But how do you get from the grief to the beauty?  How do you bridge that gap between angst and devastation to healing and joy?  Of course, the number one factor is time.  No one likes to hear it, but the most important thing is time.  Time has its way of healing, even when we may not want it to.  

Aside from giving grief its time, there are some other ways to help you cope with grief and loss.  Alzheimer’s disease cannot get the best of us.  We can find a way through it.  Here are eight ways that you can work through your grief:

  1. Seek out caring people: we all need people to walk through hard times with us.  We need people who are willing to sit with us, cry with us, and not offer us easy answers when there aren’t any to be had.  
  2. Express your feelings: allowing your pain to sit inside of you with no outlet only allows it to build and fester.  Talking to someone about how you’re feeling, whether it be a friend or a family member or a therapist, is a healthy way to work through what you’re experiencing.  
  3. Take care of yourself and your health: make sure you are taking the time to exercise, eat healthy foods, and spend time in quiet, rest, or meditation.  Make sure you aren’t numbing your pain with medicine or alcohol or any other addictive substances.
  4. Sleep: sometimes after a major loss, we find it hard to sleep, letting our brains run wild, but sleep is so important for your emotional and physical well-being.  Find the best ways to allow yourself to get the rest you need.
  5. Remember that life is for living: your loved one wouldn’t want you to stop living, to stay stuck in the past and the loss.  You have to keep taking steps forward.
  6. Hold off on major life changes: now isn’t the time to move, get married, or make a career change.  Sometimes grief makes us think that we need to do something BIG to ease the pain, but major life changes come with their own sets of stressors, and that’s not what you need after a huge loss.
  7. Be patient: healing takes time and you need to be kind to yourself in the middle of it all.
  8. Hold off on major life changes: sometimes grief is too much to walk through on your own.  You may be feeling like you can’t get out from underneath it and you aren’t able to function.  This may be the time to seek professional help, someone who knows what they are doing and knows how to help you take the next steps.

Unfortunately, grief and loss are part of everyone’s lives.  Learning how to manage pain and walk through it in a health way is an important life skill, and learning it will make life easier in the end.  Remember that your life will be beautiful again.