Chronic illness can cast a long shadow with care extending 10-20 years. As the illness advances, the losses accumulate and the shadow starts to swallow the care partner. Blocking off light and reducing the ill individual to a mere silhouette or ghost of who they once were.
GriefShadow® was designed to address this “Long good-bye”. A 16-week instrumental support group for the pre-death grief of a dementia caregiver. The latest research will be translated and applied with coping strategies presented.
Each session will be a workshop format with interactive discussion followed by a reflection worksheet. Enrollment is continuous with the format allowing a start at any juncture. Graduation is self-determined.
Registration is required with payment of $200 for half of the 16 week course. At the end of the 16 weeks, continuing workshops in rotation may be purchased for $20 per week. Courses will start on enrollment and continuously rotate through the sessions. Sessions are Wednesday at 3PM EST. Registration will be capped at 6 participants for quality interaction.
Course Session Map
- Shadows & Light
Some days life with dementia is fine, diamond even; other days straight up coal with no furnace to burn it. We will look at dementia grief in its uniqueness; our feeling vacillations and an overview of the research on the unique nature of dementia grief.
- Kubler-Ross and Grief Stages
Grief as we know it: Why do I feel angry one minute and sad the next? We will look at the classic grief model and apply it to our day-to-day journey as dementia caregivers.
- Disenfranchised Grief
How is it I feel deprived so often when I am the healthier partner? We will look at the characteristics of disenfranchised grief and apply it to the dementia journey.
- Ambiguous Grief
There is a perpetual shadow that stalks me when I accept that my partner has a neuro-degenerative disease. Sometimes I am torn between wanting the disease to speed up or slow down. We will look at the characteristics of ambiguous loss/grief and apply the research to our dementia journey.
- Complicated Grief
When will this end? Where did all our friends go? How much more dependent can they get? These are questions that arise from complicated grief. We will look at the characteristics of complicated grief and share coping strategies.
- Dementia Grief Cycle
I do not seem to fit into the regular grief support group. How do I express my grief in a group of bereaved family members? The Dementia Grief Cycle is unique. We will translate the research on dementia grief and apply the research to our dementia journey.
- Grief Expression is a task that can be accomplished with artistic and creative expression. This session will review the grief components while using mixed media to express where we are at this point in time. Supply lists will be provided at registration.
- Tasks of Grief
Wait, you mean there are tasks that have been defined for grief? Isn’t my task list long enough? In this session, we will look at the tasks of grief as defined in research. Like a cartographer, we will plot where we are currently as well as discuss grief of our childhoods and how that is recurring in today’s dementia journey.
- Grief & Bereavement Styles
Not everyone grieves the same way. In this session we will look at restoration-oriented coping and loss-oriented coping. We will apply the research on the validity of both and ways to channel our grief in ways that best suit our personalities and give us relief.
- Intimacy Loss
Intimacy Loss is one of the parts of grief rarely acknowledged. As our care partners’ time travel back to childhood responses and processing, we are left lacking the intimacy once shared. In this session we will look at the research on sexuality and dementia as well as the phenomenon called “dementia widowhood”. Strategies for improving our personal intimacy will be discussed.
Whether you are new to this journey or have been walking it for years, you have had to re-socialize. Maybe you are in the spot of needing more, so you joined Grief Shadow. In this session we will look at grief re-socialization, its components, styles and application to our personal scenario.
- Memorializing Workshop
This session will review the research on mindfulness practices as well as their role in dementia grief. We will practice & apply strategies to memorialize the person for resilience in the care journey.
- Anticipatory grief
—the long good-bye. We are torn between looking back at better days and dreading future days. The anticipation to easier days clouded by the fear of all that lies ahead. Followed by guilt for wanting things to go quicker. Anticipatory grief is one of many terms used to describe pre-death bereavement. In this session we will look at strategies to prepare for the anticipated decline as well as validate the feelings that accompany the dementia journey.
- Care Partner Grief
You are not keening alone. Your care partner expresses their grief in behaviors, repetitive questions and resistance to care. This session will look at care partner grief as well as strategies to help with expression and validate their experience.
- Middle Knowledge & Secondary Losses
Sometimes we find the safest zone is the one of denial. We ostrich but somehow, we cannot hide for long. In this session we will look at the research on Middle Knowledge & Secondary Losses. We are not just losing our care partner by incremental degrees; we are losing many other relationships and opportunities. Strategies for acknowledging both our denial as well as our secondary losses will be discussed.
- Childhood Grief
How do I deal with the grief of my children and grandchildren as they watch dementia steal their loved one away? In this session we will look at childhood grief, how it applies to our children today as well as how it applies to our own processing of grief. Strategies for discussion via specific books and creative expression will be shared as well.