Managing Grief & Loss - DementiaHub.SG

Managing Grief & Loss

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Dealing with loss is a part of life. It is all right for caregivers to feel sad when their loved one passes on.

Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. While it is a universal experience, responses to it vary from person to person, depending on a range of factors such as one’s relationship with the beloved, and the meaning one attaches to them.

Here are some common reactions that caregivers and their families may experience while experiencing grief.


Agitation, tenseness, restlessness, fatigue, over-activity, searching, crying, sighing, social withdrawal, loss of interest, low energy, having dreams of the deceased, attachment to/avoidance of items associated with the deceased.

Physical/ Body reactions

Loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, energy loss, exhaustion, complaints of a ‘hollow’ stomach, tightened chest, constricted throat, breathlessness; hyper-sensitivity to sight/smell/sound, physical complaints similar to deceased, lowered immunity.


Preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, sensing the presence of the deceased, disbelief, a feeling of unreality, helplessness, hopelessness, difficulty with memory and concentration, absent-mindedness, disorganised thoughts.


Despair, distress, anxiety, fear, guilt, self-blame, anger, irritability, loneliness, sadness, longing, shock, numbness, liberation, relief.

Coping With Grief

Here are some tips to share with caregivers as they cope with grief:

• Get enough rest and sleep: If one cannot sleep well at night, take naps, have some quiet time, and read a book or listen to music.

• Carry on with one’s usual activities as much as possible. Activities will keep them occupied and engaged during this period of grief.

• Surround oneself with loved ones. Share memories about the deceased. Do not be afraid to laugh at funny moments that they have shared.

• Avoid quick fixes. It may be tempting to use alcohol, over-eating, or other unhelpful coping mechanisms as a method of dealing with grief. Although they may seem to help for a short while, they will actually make life more difficult in the long term.

• Try to be open to accept support from others.

• Take comfort in a support group or in one’s faith. Attending support group sessions can help one communicate with others in the same situation. Prayer and meditation can help one feel better.

• Get creative. Write a poem or create a painting to express one’s feelings. They may be able to cope with their loss in a healthier way.

• Rediscover or participate in activities by themself or with a group.

• Find time to review one’s finances. Some caregivers might have left a paid job role to provide care, so he/she may feel uncertain about re-entering the workforce. Here are some initiatives available to assist therm in this transition.

Workforce Singapore helps Singaporeans in job seeking and explore new career opportunities. Find out more.

SkillsFuture is a national movement to provide persons with the opportunities to develop their potential through skills mastery and lifelong learning.

E2i’s Career Trial is part of the suite of career services to strengthen the employability of Singaporeans, through a short-term stint with an employer.

Know When to Get Professional Help

There is no specific timeline to grief. Many people find themselves coping better over time.

If caregivers’ grief reactions continue to be very intense and frequent to the extent that their health, personal care, daily function, work or school performances and relationships are affected,  they may be experiencing depression. When this happens, consider seeking professional help from a medical doctor, a psychologist, or a counsellor.

Caregivers may also use the self-assessment tool on to check their emotional well-being.

Where to Seek Help

One can approach his/her nearby general practitioners (doctors) or polyclinic doctors for help. Refer them to counsellors specialising in grief, loss and depression. Here are some available help and resources:

1. A list of counselling and psychotherapist practices specialising in grief, loss, and depression on the Singapore Association of Counselling’s website.

2. Caring for yourself and Others by Singapore Hospice Council on coping with bereavement.

3. Community bereavement service providers

4. Coping with bereavement by Institute of Mental Health.

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