Sudden-On-Chronic Death and Complicated Grief in Bereaved Dementia Caregivers: Two Case Studies of Complicated Grief Group Therapy


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging and often has negative health and mental health effects that, for 7–20% of caregivers, persist into bereavement in the form of complicated grief. Complicated grief is a state of prolonged and ineffective mourning. An under-recognized phenomenon in dementia care and bereavement is “sudden-on-chronic death.” In these situations, the caregiver is preparing for a gradual dying process from dementia, but the care recipient dies instead from a sudden death. In this study, an application of complicated grief group therapy for bereaved dementia caregivers with complicated grief is presented, and the effect of therapy with two bereaved caregivers who experienced the sudden death of their spouses who had a diagnosis of dementia is described. The unique treatment elements of complicated grief group therapy facilitated resolution of the ‘trauma-like” features of bereavement and progression to a healthy grief process.

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