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Expert Blog

Love Yourself

July 25, 2016

The finality of Jim being gone is stifling in its permanence.

Although I was told over and over I would feel relief, I have yet to be so lucky. Maybe because I was expecting it. Maybe because I still carry the weight of guilt that I will never release. Maybe because I am the survivor and he wasn’t. Maybe because I am the type of personality that never accepts defeat.

They say it gets easier with time. I suppose that is the best way to put it. I don’t know if I would concur. Just like an amputee who must learn to move a little differently so as not to fall flat with each step and must learn anew to use limbs that were never theirs. Eventually forced to accept these contraptions as a new part of themselves…an intruder that becomes so intimate you sometimes forget it was ever easier without them. Influencing a mind to overcome physical pain which also is emotional pain. I suppose time is pushing me into a more docile state of acceptance.

I don’t grieve my love for him. That is still very much a part of me, alive and present. I have yet to cut the bond I feel for the man I will never see again. There is no artificial limb that can help me move forward. I grieve with much anguish his love for me. His acceptance of me. His encouragement. His trust. His overwhelming presence that I have lost forever. Our kids have lost forever.

It is the unconscious flow of consciousness. It isn’t the fact I realize I am alone. It is the recognition of all that has transpired to cause this solitary. If I try to picture him during the last few weeks so I can be happy he is in a better place, I am saddened that such a wonderful man went through the awful suffering and end of a wonderful life. If I try to picture him before, healthy, happy, witty, active, I am saddened that he is no longer with us. Selfishly I want that man back with a vengeance.

Either way I am saddened. Either way he still isn’t with us. Either way I must learn to live a new life while remembering the old one. Grief is something everyone eventually must come face to face with. Some must endure it over and over during their lifetime. Some are fortunate enough to have small batches at long intervals. Either way, learning to cope and to deal with a change that you have no control over takes time, understanding, forgiveness and lots of support. We knew Jim would be leaving us way too soon for years. Would it be easier if he had died suddenly with no planning, no goodbyes, no warning? Would it be harder to know there were things left unsaid, undone? The answer of course is different for each person who must live through the suffering of immense loss.

I am thankful for the time I had to help Jim during the most sacred time in a person’s life. I was able to be there for him. It cost me. More than I ever imagined it would. And I didn’t do a perfect job. But I did the best I could on that particular day at that particular time and Jim always saw that and appreciated my efforts. I could not have had a better patient. I am grateful for all he taught me while he was dying. Which in many ways has made his loss so much more vast.

Every caregiver lives with guilt and loneliness and eventually they are alone and rehashing all that has transpired. Hopefully, if you are reading this, you will take the few minutes you have to yourself and you will love yourself. Love your life. Love the opportunities you have been given to be part of a hallowed time. It doesn’t always feel like that. It is hard to dig so deep as to be happy right now. But it will save you in the long run and that is what is important. Saving yourself. Loving yourself. Loving your person you are caring for.

This world shows us much ugliness, and it is easy to fall prey to self-pity and to turn hard. Don’t. Let your grief show and then let your world support you and help you move on. I am trying to at this very moment. I hope you will too.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. September 20, 2016 at 11:18 pm
    Posted by Dawn Burghardt

    My husband, Terry, was diagnosed with AD in 2013, at age 55. He is in good health and the only problem he had was short term memory loss. He is now becoming disoriented and confused. I want to be able to continue to care for Terry at home. I have to work full time to keep health insurance for our family. If you have any suggestions as to how we can make this happen I would greatly appreciate it. The out of pocket cost is 13-20 dollars an hour. This is out of reach for my family.

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