Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dementia and Grief

We each grieve in our own way. When a loved one has dementia, we often find ourselves grieving over a long period of time. We grieve as we lose our private jokes one day, and then, six months later we grieve again when we lose our quiet moments of conversation over morning coffee.

I think we grieve so much that we no longer fear the separation of death. We may mistakenly think our grieving is done, and when our loved one dies, the feeling of loss can take us by surprise. My husband died in April 2005, after ten years with dementia. Even after all this time a song, picture, dream, or fleeting thought can remind me of him and I find myself missing him and grieving his loss.

I keep busy and am involved with the Alzheimer's Association. I don't spend my time depressed or lonely, but I think it is entirely my prerogative to feel sad or cry when feelings overwhelm me. I wrote a story called "The Aftermath" for the book I compiled and edited, Alzheimer's Anthology of Unconditional Love. I almost left the story out because I thought it might be too sad, but I've received more comments on that story than any other in the book.

Grief is natural and has no timetable. Still, the greatest tribute we can pay to our loved ones is to move forward and honor their memory by living a full and happy life.