The bereavement experience of spousal caregivers to persons with dementia: Reclaiming self

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Abstract

Spouses of persons living with dementia both anticipate future loss and grieve for multiple losses occurring with caregiving and this ultimately influences their bereavement experience. Little research has been conducted regarding the bereavement experience in the caregiving journey with dementia and what does exist is mostly quantitative in nature. The purpose of this study is to describe the bereavement experience of spousal caregivers (n = 10) utilizing Thorne’s interpretive description. Thematic analysis revealed the features and facilitators of the bereavement process for spousal caregivers to persons with dementia. The unique contribution of this study to the dementia literature is the finding that the overall process of reclaiming self is significant to the bereavement journey. Future work should investigate identity as understood by spousal caregivers to persons with dementia, and further explore the processes, facilitators, and barriers to healthy bereavement in this population.

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