The attached article provides a wonderful starting point for those caregivers who know that the outcome of their loved one’s Alzheimer’s or other dementia is a certainty.
Preparation is key. We can never be fully prepared for the time when our loved one dies, but we would be wise to make some sort of plan while we’re months away from grief’s impact. I’m not talking about the legal planning that, hopefully, is already in place. I’m referring to the day-of-impact planning that will carry you through one of the most difficult times of your caregiving journey.
DEATH – not everyone is comfortable discussing this topic even though it is as certain as, well, death and taxes. Death to many is a taboo subject and dealing with its aftermath, a foreign concept. It stands to reason, therefore, that during your time of grief, some of your acquaintances may blunder their way through trying to help you. Use discernment in setting up your Emotional Support Team and Practical Support Team.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT TEAM. You know the acquaintances upon which you’ve always been able to rely, so place them at the top of your plan’s contact list. These are people with whom you’ve shared all the personal intricacies of your life; they understand how you tick, and can oftentimes predict what you’ll need before you even know you need it.
PRACTICAL SUPPORT TEAM. These acquaintances fill in the gaps that will no doubt be made as you’re dealing with the “business” of dying. Some examples of tasks they may perform: picking up the grandkids from school; providing light housekeeping; picking up the dry cleaning; running to the post office for you. The list is endless but chances are you have a few friends who would relish the opportunity to help out in this way. They may not be strong in providing emotional support but excel at the “doing” type of support.
Grief is personal and there’s no set period of time that it’s supposed to last. Just as every person in this world is different from everyone else, grief is intimately personal for those going through it. If outside help in the form of grief support groups is available, look into churches, hospitals, hospice centers and the like who offer such groups. Have their number handy and don’t hesitate to call them. For the most part, you know what might help you most, but if you find yourself floundering and unable to function, do yourself a favor and accept the support that your dedicated friends offer. There’s no shame in doing so. Who knows, you may be providing that same support to them some day. What a wonderful way to return the favor.