Masking the Loss

I was sitting on the front porch talking to Willie yesterday. The conversation was about his life; accomplishments, places of travel, marriages, his beloved wife Maggie and his military career. He talked in great detail about each life event, carefully giving credit for his success in every area to his late wife, Maggie.
“She was my life. She saw me through the bad places, the rough spots and dark nights. No matter where I was, she was with me, in my thoughts and in my heart. I don’t know how to live without her. “
I have said this before, and I will say it again. I do not know how to help Willie. How do you take someone’s grief and replace it with anything else? How do I stop his dementia from making her death new to him every day? How can he mourn his wife and cope with her loss, when he continually loses her over and over again? How do we break the cycle?
Willie continued, “Maggie was my life and without her, I have no life, no reason to live and really no desire to live without her.” He began to sob uncontrollably. I am at a loss for his loss.
Dementia does this to people. It takes them to a place where they seek to find people that they loved in their lives…..their parents, their grandparents, their childhood homes…..all things and people have long passed on….. We as health care professionals often turn to medication to “calm the resident”, or better yet “manage their agitation”. It’s a catch 22 situation really. Using medication to mask to their feelings of loss is simply that, a mask. We are not fixing anything, but I guess we are decreasing their feelings of loss by decreasing their memories of loss. Maybe that is the right thing to do.
I just don’t know……………

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4 thoughts on “Masking the Loss

  1. Reminds me of the movie “50 first dates”. When you know it will be replayed afresh each day then perhaps the question is how can I make each new day easier to live in? Perhaps by playing their favorite songs. Surrounding them with pictures of places they have enjoyed most from the past. Helping them to make a memory book. The only perfect answer is love. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is long suffering. Love does not keep account of wrongs. Love never fails. I remember, when the going gets rough Jesus said whatever I do to the least of these I am doing it to Him. Waiting on Jesus is never a chore. Waiting on Jesus is an honor and a high calling. Its the little things that add up and count for the most in God’s economy. Ask God for help. Ask God for unique wisdom. He said He doesn’t resent our questions or pleas for more wisdom. He says ask!

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  2. I love the compassion in your post here. Dementia is such a cruel disease both for those suffering from it, but also for their loved ones. You may not be able to physically change someone’s circumstances but you clearly do a wonderful job through your ability to sympathise and listen. Thank you for everything you do.

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  3. Jessi, thank you for following me,it made me come read this,and your blog. It is a beacon. You’re tackling a subject so important, and you’re so right, we don’t have the answers! My mother-in-law has this, and my aunt and grandfather did. I posted a little something about it over a year ago, perhaps you would like to read it? This one more a laud for the many family who are tending to her, as we live 7 hours away from her. http://joantwarren.com/2013/06/23/song-for-the-unsung/
    I love Lisa Genova’s story Still Alice; have you read it? It is from the person with Alzheimer’s perspective, an amazing work. Sorry for going on a bit, nice to meet you, will be following you too. Thanks again–

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