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Coping with Constant Loss

H

Herbarium

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
Messages
5
Location
KC, MO
My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s when I was about 18 and she, 53. Though, to be honest, I started noticing her symptoms when I was 14. It was a struggle bringing it up to my dad at first, for two years he told me I was being rude and that my mom ‘was just not the sharpest tool sometimes’ and ‘she’s just tired taking you and your brother everywhere’. But eventually his denial subsided and he realized there was an issue.
Her big decline hit when I was 19. Being away at college and only seeing her for holidays, every return home was a new shock.

She developed a complicated aphasia over the year I turned 20. She seemed to recognize she couldn’t speak properly and fell silent most of that year. Though she still seemed to understand most things said to her. Then she no longer recognized that her speech was off. She would either never speak or string together a ‘sentence’ of gibberish when she got excited seeing someone she knew.
I was 21 when she first didn’t recognize me.
I was 22 when I got a black eye from retraining her from hitting a mirror because she didn’t recognize her own reflection.
I was also 22 when I first helped her change her diaper.
I’m now 24. She is nearly completely bedridden, spoon-fed, and cannot do anything for herself.

A couple years ago we noticed she hummed and smiled when by the Christmas tree so we leave it up year round and wheel her by it daily. Her old friends come by and decorate it for every season and holiday. We’ve had Easter tree, Valentines tree, Summer solstice tree, Halloween tree, Thanksgiving tree, and more. They talk to her like nothing has changed. She laughs when they do. I could not be more grateful to them for that. Her laughter feels like the last bit of her I can see.

Over the past 6 years (or more realistically, 9-10 years) it sometimes feels like I have had more loss in my life than if she were to have passed quickly. I had to mourn each new part of her that disappeared every time I visited. I was supposed to really get to know her in my adulthood. I was supposed to talk to her about clothes and boys and about how medical school is hard right now. I was supposed to eventually let her plan my wedding. She would have loved that. We would have argued about flowers and color themes and whatever else it is normal people chat about with their moms. Sometimes I get angry and jealous that I never had that, that I will never have that. How was I supposed to know my last chance to get to know her better was in high school?

Now it seems we are near the end. In a messed up way I am grateful for that. She deserves peace. And my family and her friends deserve the opportunity to grieve for her completely and conclusively, unburdened by the guilt that we’re supposed to be grateful a tiny piece of her remains in a failing body.

For the most part, I think I am in my acceptance phase of grieving. Though, we all know that the grief doesn’t end there. Neither does it progress in a linear five stages.

I read somewhere that grief is like a ball in a moving box. There’s a button in that box and when the ball hits it, your grief hits you. In the beginning, this ball is huge; it fills the box and constantly presses the button and you constantly feel your grief. But over time, the ball begins to shrink. It hits the button less and less frequently. Though the pain is the same with each time the button is pressed, it will get fewer and farther between as time goes on. You never stop grieving a loved one. But it does get more manageable.

I know this is a very long post, but I also know many people on here have similar stories and varied ways of grieving. If you ever want to talk about how you grieve about your loved one’s, please feel free to post here or dm me directly. I don’t personally have anyone who can relate in my life, especially not anyone my age, but it might be a comfort to type things out. I know this post was quite cathartic for me.
 
I

Inie

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 30, 2021
Messages
249
Location
California
I just recently loss my mother to long battle of cancer. You are never prepared. I miss her just being around. They say time heals all wounds. I think you just learn to cope the best way you can.
 
Signofthetimes

Signofthetimes

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
330
Location
California
I'm sorry. Your mom has a wonderful daughter and family. Wish you had more time together.
 
2

2Much2Feel

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2021
Messages
544
Location
US
Hi and I am so sorry for this "long goodbye". Your post was beautiful, you are such an excellent writer that I wonder if someday you may help a lot of people going through this very thing with your writing (and med school as well?). Anyway, the Christmas tree is such an amazing act of love on your part, makes me cry. She sounds so fortunate to have such loving family and friends while going through this, and I will have you in my dysfunctional prayers tonight. I hope you get a lot of good advice here, as I'm sure there are others who can relate to your experience. If it helps just to chime in some times, do that. ❤
 
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