the grieving process

Posted by bl2016 @bl2016, Aug 17, 2017

My husband is in the late stages of early onset alzheimers. I feel that I have been saying goodbye slowly for 10 or more years. I feel more detached from him emotionally all the time while at the same time feel so sad watching him disappear. It is a struggle and it seems that no one else really understands. How are some other caregivers who are losing the love of their life coping?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers: Dementia group.

Thank you for sharing your story. Like SallySue, I hope you find peace.

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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The gift of listening is a profound gift of love.

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@IndianaScott

Hello @bl2016 I am Scott and I recently lost my wife after a 14 year war with brain cancer and a few years ago lost my mother in law to dementia. I have heard Alzheimer’s referred to frequently as ‘the long good bye’. I was my wife’s primary caregiver for her 14 years and I, too, felt I was on a emotional mishmash. It is a struggle as you point out and few, other than those who have been through it, truly understand. Very few did in our case that is for sure.

Coping, as with grief, is a highly individualized experience. I was misled into believing grief followed the ‘stages’, which are so often touted. This made my personal journey in grief all the harder as I do not experience it anywhere near what the books and ‘experts’ forecast.

My wife and I were married for 41 years and nothing prepared me for many of the feelings I now have in this different life. I do give myself permission to simply have my feelings — and follow the path as I am experiencing it. I also have a mantra taped up by my desk which says “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow’. My father was an alcoholic so I also firmly believe ‘one day at a time’ is a solid way to make your way through grief, but that, as I said, is just me.

Expect an emotional roller coaster and know that no matter what you are feeling it is the right way for you to feel!

I look forward to your staying in touch and asking any other questions you might have. I hope I have helped and not hindered.

Strength, courage, & Peace!

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This is my 20th year as a family caregiver, and I am very isolated. Although friends know my story, and sympathize with me, I rarely see them because of the demands of caregiving. To make contact with others, I write articles and books, write for three websites, and give talks about caregiving. These steps help to reduce my feelings of isolation.

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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Thank you for your words regarding the gift of listening. I find that one very challenging for me right now . He is in so much fear of the future when I am around him he criticises my actions on simple daily life stuff, like how much water I use to wash dishes and throwing away a small end of a bread loaf. The micro managing is a form of anxiety I’m told. He’s on antidepressants but I feel this situation is getting harder for me to mentally tolerate. I have a carers break when he’s go into the hospital for a couple days of treatment. I’m sleeping in another room. I think I’ll call my cancer counsler and ask for help. He’s becoming less and less of the man I use to know and it’s frightening me.

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@IndianaScott

Hello @bl2016 I am Scott and I recently lost my wife after a 14 year war with brain cancer and a few years ago lost my mother in law to dementia. I have heard Alzheimer’s referred to frequently as ‘the long good bye’. I was my wife’s primary caregiver for her 14 years and I, too, felt I was on a emotional mishmash. It is a struggle as you point out and few, other than those who have been through it, truly understand. Very few did in our case that is for sure.

Coping, as with grief, is a highly individualized experience. I was misled into believing grief followed the ‘stages’, which are so often touted. This made my personal journey in grief all the harder as I do not experience it anywhere near what the books and ‘experts’ forecast.

My wife and I were married for 41 years and nothing prepared me for many of the feelings I now have in this different life. I do give myself permission to simply have my feelings — and follow the path as I am experiencing it. I also have a mantra taped up by my desk which says “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow’. My father was an alcoholic so I also firmly believe ‘one day at a time’ is a solid way to make your way through grief, but that, as I said, is just me.

Expect an emotional roller coaster and know that no matter what you are feeling it is the right way for you to feel!

I look forward to your staying in touch and asking any other questions you might have. I hope I have helped and not hindered.

Strength, courage, & Peace!

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Thank you for your words. I too, feel isolated in a small country town. I will try writing more too.

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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Getting some help sounds like a good idea. When my mother criticized me, I realized it was dementia talking, not the amazing mother of my childhood. I also realized, yet again, that her life had become a confusing maze. Mom felt lost and scared. Reversing roles mentally with my mother helped me to cope with her behavior.

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@IndianaScott

Hello @bl2016 I am Scott and I recently lost my wife after a 14 year war with brain cancer and a few years ago lost my mother in law to dementia. I have heard Alzheimer’s referred to frequently as ‘the long good bye’. I was my wife’s primary caregiver for her 14 years and I, too, felt I was on a emotional mishmash. It is a struggle as you point out and few, other than those who have been through it, truly understand. Very few did in our case that is for sure.

Coping, as with grief, is a highly individualized experience. I was misled into believing grief followed the ‘stages’, which are so often touted. This made my personal journey in grief all the harder as I do not experience it anywhere near what the books and ‘experts’ forecast.

My wife and I were married for 41 years and nothing prepared me for many of the feelings I now have in this different life. I do give myself permission to simply have my feelings — and follow the path as I am experiencing it. I also have a mantra taped up by my desk which says “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow’. My father was an alcoholic so I also firmly believe ‘one day at a time’ is a solid way to make your way through grief, but that, as I said, is just me.

Expect an emotional roller coaster and know that no matter what you are feeling it is the right way for you to feel!

I look forward to your staying in touch and asking any other questions you might have. I hope I have helped and not hindered.

Strength, courage, & Peace!

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Writing helps in many ways. I think writing affirmations helps family caregivers. First, it makes us focus on the blessings in our lives. Second, it changes our thinking from negative to positive. Third, it creates a framework for our lives. I recommend one-sentence affirmations because they are easier to write and remember. Your first affirmation: I can write affirmations!

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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Thank you. I will ask for help. I will try to remember to not react but to think he’s unwell in a way I don’t understand. I don’t feel safe around him when he’s like this. He hasn’t become verbally aggressive in about 8 months but I guess I fear it may happen again. I find feeling unsafe very difficult to manage. I feel unsafe because when I try to explain or talk it through it turns into an irrational argument , that’s when I realise there’s nothing to argue about. Really. Like how much water is too much to wash dishes.

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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Good morning @mnina Caregiving is often nothing short of a brutal assignment for which we receive no training and no ’employee manual’! Remember we only find super heros in the comic books and not in caregiving! Often what we are confronted with is simply beyond our abilities. You show great strength in seeking assistance!

While I know each patient is unique on their journey, but in the case of my wife, she too lashed out at me the most. Her neuro-oncologist explained to me it was because she felt the very safest with me so she could vent, rant, etc. and know my love would still be there afterwards. Her anxiety was never able to be corralled by the doctors in her case and that was a highly challenging situation for me. She couldn’t focus on anything for longer than a few seconds at a time. I agree this can be an incredibly exhausting aspect of caregiving! In cases such as your water and dishes, I would simply say ‘ok, I’ll watch that. Thanks for letting me know.’ More often than not that ended that particular concern — for that moment until it came back up again.

My wife, too, showed very different personalities during the course of her war. I say while I was married to one woman for 41 years I was married to about a dozen different people. Chronic disease and longtime disease fighting takes its tolls in some very challenging ways for sure.

Sending strength, courage, and peace!

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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Thank you. I do feel better , especially knowing that I’m not the only one and I’m not going to lose my common sense over this, With Gods Grace. Thank you.

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@harriethodgson1

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years. As her dementia increased, my anxiety and stress increased. A friend of mine, who is a certified grief counselor, told me I was going through anticipatory grief. Everyone feels this at one time or another in their lives, yet many have never heard the term. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Her comment got me researching anticipatory grief and I continue to do it. I wrote a book about it (Lois Krahn, MD co-autthor) and have written articles about it. For quick info read “Why is Anticipatory Grief So Powerful?” on The Caregiver Space website, http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/author/hhodgson

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Thank you for your honest post. I think you’re so right when you say your wife had about a dozen different personalities. It’s hard for caregivers to adapt to these changes.

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Demented loved ones can say confusing things and, every once in a while, say something profound. When my mother became more difficult, I could usually calm her by saying “I love you.” After a while that didn’t work. One day I told her I was doing my best. “You may be doing your best,” she replied angrily, “but it isn’t good enough.” What a hurtful comment. Later I realized my mother was right. My best wasn’t good enough to make her young again. My best wasn’t good enough to restore mental functions. My best wasn’t good enough to make her happy. All I could do was continue to love her, manage her finances, and provide the best possible care.

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