Sunday, March 24, 2013

COPING WITH KINDNESS

I have spoken to a couple friends who had dealt with similar situations like mine--coping with a loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer's.  It is not easy to see someone you love slowly fade from you, slowly become someone you barely know.  The three of us recently lost our loved ones, and our sorrow is bittersweet.  Essentially we lost them a while back, and maybe some of the mourning began then.  It is sad to see someone you loved, adored and cherished slowly become a different person.  They become quick to anger, less kind, forgetful, paranoid, threatening, and have odd behaviors.  Some days they may seem okay, may spend some time with you that seems so good.  Other days they might be screaming or accusing.  It hurts to know that the person you loved is drifting off into shadows.  Sometimes you look at them and see how they used to be--see the smiles, hear the laughter, feel the tender touch--and you want it all back.  
It is not easy to stay calm and patient.  When my husband would be screaming at me, I would have to bite my tongue to not scream back.  I knew it would do no good as it was the illness screaming, not him.  But it still hurt.  When he would scream 'I hate you' I hollered back 'I love you.'   You learn to become a very patient person.  You also learn you must have time away. And you learn to vent away from them, maybe screaming at the clouds or scolding the coat or dog, or just having a good cry.
When they die, you feel sadness and relief.  The mourning I experienced as I watched him drift into the fog of frontal lobe dementia was so different from the experience afterwards.  
But instead on dwelling on the difficulties of the past 6 years of the illness, I began to start to dwell on the 30 good years.  I sifted through photographs and recalled each memory of the time it was taken.  Sounds, scents, feelings, drifted to me.  I heard his voice and laughter.  I saw his big smile and the glimmer in his blue eyes.  I felt him.  It was so good, Yes, it brought tears, but they were good ones.  And it also brought smiles. 
It helps no one to dwell on those difficult times.  I prefer to live with the positive.  Today I found old letters and cards to each other and as I sat reading them, I laughed and cried and gave thanks for such wonderful memories. 
Clay and I shared so many experiences in the 30 years prior to his illness and those far out weigh the bad ones.  I know sometimes I wanted to leave, to run away from it, to be free, but in my heart I knew I had made a pledge to him--first when we were married, and second when we found out about his condition and he asked me to never leave him. 
I am thankful to have had his love and to have shared his life.
I hope my friends will come to feel the same way. I hope it for their sake.

12 comments:

  1. How well you put what I know you have been feeling. Keep all those old mories. They are good ones.

    Beth

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  2. My dear Rose,
    What a poignant, loving and heartfelt post. It touched me deeply. Your Clay would be awfully proud of you for writing it.
    Hold tight to all those good memories dear girl.
    Hugs
    Rose

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  3. You have described the heart of love, that steadfast but intangible bond that makes the Universe work.You are a beautiful person, Rose. Keep your light shining. Alice

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  4. So lovingly expressed, Rose.

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  5. Lovingly put, Rose, Moma

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  6. Dear Rose, Thanks for writing such a touching message about how you have been feeling. Gene and I wish you the very best. Sue

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  7. Oh Rose, this post has brought cold chills all over my body. I know that your husbands passing was bitter sweet. As it was with my husbands mother. She had Dementia and as you said, was not the same person. I always encouraged my husband to remember her as she was. He was always so kind and loving to her even when she accused the three boys of moving her furniture around to confuse her. Everything was just the way it was. But in her mind it was different. He and his brothers would take turns spending the night three nights a week to give their dad a break. One night he spent the entire evening searching for fudge because she just knew that she had made some. He didn't have the heart to tell her that there was NO way! She had been an amazing cook and famous for her fudge. Her passing was a blessing really, but we all miss the Bonnie that she was. You are an amazing woman. It would be so difficult to say "I love you" when someone says they hate you. Even when you know that it's the illness talking.
    hugs,
    Jann
    hugs,
    Jann

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  8. What a beacon of light you are, Rose. One of the verses I hang onto when I'm down is: Think on these things: Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, and admirable.

    Way too often I start rolling the gripes and little slights through my mind. As you say, focus on the good things.

    Thanks for reminding me of the path of peace.

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  9. Your voice is so eloquent Rose. I have been blessed to know you and your wonderful way of capturing universal feelings so beautifully. Love you and your courage and perseverance.

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  10. It really is hard to witness. What an inspiring post.

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  11. Beautiful, Rose. Your love and courage shine through.

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