I’m so sorry to hear of your father’s death. It can be very difficult when both parents have dementia, and the sense of loss, even before either of them dies, is a kind of grief in itself.
Whether a person with dementia should attend a funeral or memorial depends on many things including your family’s customs and culture as well as the person’s level of comprehension, distress, and any behaviors that would be difficult to manage. Below are a few things you might want to consider.
What is the setting for the memorial? Will you be in a place that is familiar to her? She may be more comfortable if she is not in a completely new environment. In addition, think about how many people will be attending. A smaller number may be less confusing for your mother.
If your mother does go to the memorial, it would be important to appoint someone she knows – a friend or family member – to stay by her side. They can provide her with prompts, comfort, and explain things to her in ways that she can understand. Have a room set aside for them to retreat to should she become overwhelmed.
It is possible that attending the funeral will help your mother to process the idea that her husband is gone, but it is also possible that she will not remember it. There may be times where it is kinder not to remind her what has happened, especially if she repeatedly asks where he has gone. In this case, you may not want to say that he has died but, instead, divert her attention to something else. Whatever you decide to do, try to acknowledge her feelings and use as simple language as possible.
Consider getting some support for yourself at this time, too. A bereavement group that can provide emotional support and a safe place to talk about your experiences, a close friend who is a good listener, or a professional such as a physician or therapist, may be helpful.
Find out more about our Support Group for Caregivers Who Have Lost a Loved One with Dementia and additional information about grief, loss, and dementia by calling the Alzheimer’s Los Angeles Helpline at 844-435-7259 or view our list of support groups.
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