I boldy write and say on a regular basis that for stroke survivors and carers of people with dementia challenges that loss of use of limbs, speech or memory can be like a mini-bereavement and not to be taken lightly. This applies not only to the patient/client/sufferer but to family members,friends and carers who have to come to terms with the reality that part of the person they knew and loved may be lost, sometimes temporarily and sometimes it is a gradually process and permanent.
When supporting people through the bereavement process I often remind them that perhaps the cancer or heart problems which may have led to the loss of a family member or friend is not who they were…that is what they had. Similarly accepting the challenges a stroke survivor has to live with will help them tremendously.
For the bereaved; to help the grieving process focusing on the good memories and the achievements and life the person led is a positive step. Remembering the good times and even the really funny times can help. Remember our loved one would not want us to only be sad when we recalled them. I know my sister and I enjoy having a girly lunch and giggling at things our mum said and done..in doing so we are keeping her alive in our minds and our hearts.
Denying the existence of someone we loved and have lost doesn’t help but celebrating their life does, but that can take time and that can be the real challenge. Acceptance doesn’t happen overnight and talking to other people in a similar situation really can help as realisation sets in that you are not alone in your struggle. You can’t beat a bit of support with genuine empathy there is no need to feel alone.