Have you ever cried so hard and finally … no tears left? Caring for/knowing someone with a terminal illness is similar in that you’re grieving daily for years and then it’s gone, they’re gone and you’re left still grieving but not at the beginning, at the end. Recently talked with a friend whose husband was terminally ill, she grieved him for years, then when he passed, felt guilty for wanting to get on with her life. After two more years, finally started moving on. Feelings of guilt …should/can she be happy?
There are stages in grieving, according to health professional literature:
Denial (This isn’t happening )
Anger (Why is this happening)
Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better … if…)
Depression (I don’t care anymore.)
Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes.)
I, personally, have passed through all the stages (with Mother), and find myself rotating through. I know that sounds a hair to the left of normal, but, you must understand, there are times when I look at her (she’s having a lucid day …sort of) and I actually deny to myself that she’s not worse, she’s improving. Then within minutes, she changes, I’m rotating. Emotionally draining for sure. When I find myself in this state, I pray and give it to The Lord. He takes my burdens away. I can get on with living my life, and still be there for Mother.
I’’ve shared my heart in support groups, I’ve cared for hospice and hospital patients in the dying state, and I’ve spoken with Pastors and I’m really o.k. in my heart. When I digest all that’s happening to her, I realize that today is the only day I can do anything about. Today I must be in control, to help her. So, I must be comfortable in my own skin …I am! This didn’t happen over night, my friend reminded me. All the roles I’ve played over my lifetime have helped to prepare me for watching my Mother lose herself daily in the Alzheimer’s abyss, and be there for her. That doesn’t mean I’m callous, quite the opposite, I shed tears when she waves through that small window in the secure unit doors, or when I see her trying to make sense of things, or like recently pursuing an ambulance that’s taking her to the hospital, after a fall, wondering if she’s still alive. She ponders, I shed tears. She’s my Mother …I hate what she’s going though …but here I am …walking this journey …trying to help …her.
Caring Is Sharing/sg