Unconventional Grief: Grieving someone Alive

This blog post is about “grieving for someone alive,” which the author describes as different from “anticipatory grief.”  (Sure seems like they are splitting hairs!)  Grieving for someone alive is often “caused by a loved one becoming someone that you no longer know or recognize.”  This is also called “unconventional grief” or “ambiguous grief” in this blog post.

Here are some excerpts:

* “A person will experience many emotions while grieving someone alive. …  Anger is a prominent emotion that shows up. … While experiencing anger, you may feel guilty as well that you are experiencing anger or guilty that you cannot control or change the situation.”

* “Unlike when someone dies, you are unlikely to experience positive emotions while grieving someone alive. When someone passes, you are surrounded by the comfort of their loved ones and are often able to look at the joy of their life. This rarely happens with unconventional or ambiguous grief.”

* Five tips are offered for grieving someone alive:
– “Let yourself grieve. ”
– “Find other people in the same situation.”
– “Don’t forget your memories or the past.”
– “Open yourself up to change.”
– “Always remember that the illness is not the person.”

Here’s a link to the blog post:


Unconventional Grief: Grieving someone Alive
The American Academy of Bereavement
posted on October 20, 2015

California Right to Die Law

This email may be of general interest.

Some of us were talking at the last caregiver support group meeting as to whether the governor would sign the right to die legislation (“End of Life Option Act”) that was passed by the legislature this summer.  Gov. Jerry Brown did indeed sign the legislation last week.  There is at least one person in our local support group with a neurological diagnosis who feels relieved to have this available as an option, should he want to pursue it.

Here’s a good San Jose Mercury News article about the subject.

See: http://www.mercurynews.com/health/ci_28924368/brown-signs-right-die-law

Right to die: California Gov. Jerry Brown signs law
By Lisa M. Krieger, Jessica Calefati and Tracy Seipel
San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   10/05/2015 12:41:06 PM PDT


“Help for the Caring” (NeurologyNow)

There is a good article in the October/November 2015 issue of NeurologyNow magazine about family caregivers accepting assistance by hiring home care aides.  The key points of advice are:

* Manage your worries.  The author notes that a family caregiver persevered through two sub-par home care aides until she found a third one she and her husband were comfortable with.

* Let go of guilt.  A psychologist quoted in the article says:  “I tell caregivers that guilt is a cul-de-sac; it doesn’t lead anywhere.”

* Allow yourself to feel relief.  And, again – let go of guilt that you feel relief.

* Reach out for support.  The article reports on a caregiver who went to a caregiver support group five years earlier and realized she wasn’t ready to share her situation openly with others.  Then the caregiver started attending a support group when the time was right.

* Acknowledge loss.  A psychologist notes that grief continues as the family caregiver loses more parts of their loved one.

* Recognize how you’ve grown.  The author says:  “For many people, caring for someone is deeply rewarding.”

* Recalibrate your role.  “You may not be cooking meals or toileting the person [as outside help may be doing that], but that frees you up to be the advocate, case manager, and emotional support” for your family member,” says the psychologist.

* Consider your next chapter after the caregiving ends.  Resume hobbies or reinvest in relationships that languished while you were caregiving.

Here’s a link to to the full article:

Help for the Caring: Not all caregivers want an extra hand, even when they really need it.  Here’s how to accept assistance — and handle the ambivalent emotions that may arise.
by Christine Richmond
Neurology Now
October/November 2015, Volume 11, Issue 5, pages 54-57

Happy reading!