People with dementia, their family members, caregivers, and staff who support them all experience some form of grief throughout the progression of the disease. Ambiguous loss is the set of feelings commonly experienced while grieving over the person with dementia long before she dies. A person experiencing ambiguous loss may feel that the person with dementia is leaving her a little bit each day. Learning about loss and grief due to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can help in better understanding the feelings that occur and may ease the process.
The Alzheimer Society has developed evidence-based practical resources written from a person-centred perspective to help healthcare professionals understand and support those experiencing ambiguous loss and grief associated with dementia.
For healthcare providers
Supporting clients through ambiguous loss and grief: Strategies for healthcare providers is a practical resource to help health-care providers identify, acknowledge and normalize the feelings of loss and grief experienced by family caregivers of a person with dementia— from diagnosis to end-of-life and after caregiving.
Dementia and staff grief: A resource for healthcare providers is a resource for organizations and their personnel on better understanding the multiple losses experienced by staff caring for people with dementia.
Webinar on dementia and staff grief presented by brainXchange.
- Taking the lead: Supporting staff in coping with grief and loss in dementia care, Healthcare Management Forum 2017
- Ambiguous loss and grief in dementia: a resource for individuals and families is a practical resource to help people with dementia and their families understand how the feelings of loss and grief can affect them.
- Webinar on ambiguous grief and loss presented by the Canadian Dementia Resource and Knowledge Exchange.
- Grief, Loss and Dementia: caregivers share their journeys (DVD). Vancouver Island Health Authority, 2011 and supporting documents CD (Workbook for Dementia Caregivers, A Quick Guide For Family Caregivers, and A Quick Guide for Professional Caregivers).
- Loss, Trauma and Resilience, Pauline Boss, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.
- The Ambiguous Loss of Dementia: Finding Meaning and Hope, Pauline Boss, September 2009.
- Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief, Pauline Boss, August 2011.
- Grief in times of celebration: the empty spot. Horst, Glen, Canadian Virtual Hospice
- Use our checklist to help support your family caregivers dealing with ambiguous loss and grief.