Tears of Grief not Guilt

Family caregivers cry a lot. There’s frustration and guilt and depression and sadness. One thing that’s not often addressed is grief. Our care recipient (parent, spouse, child) is alive but we are grieving as if they were not…

Lately, I’ve been crying a lot. I’m not sad, really. I’m coping with almost everything and I’m doing a damn good job of caregiving for my mother. She has Alzheimers; tumbling off the cliff edge of the final quarter stage and I am forced to watch her decline.

She knows who I am because I remind her. I say, “Mama, what’s my name?” (Note the hint?) She usually knows. If she gives my Hebrew name I ask for my English name. If she gives my English name I ask for my Hebrew name. When she’s feeling mischievous she gets a look on her face and says, “Whatsername, you know.”

She is not the same woman she was and I miss her. I’m crying because I am grieving, because I am grieving for the loss of all the opportunities for profound discussion, for insights into her personal history, for insights into her desires for the legacy she would want to leave the world.

On the other hand, I’ve started putting coconut oil in as many meals as I can and I am so sure that I am seeing a positive difference. Because she does still know who I am and just the other day she recognized our house as hers – and she hasn’t for quite a while.

Dare I believe in a full remission? Maybe not to the extent that I can safely expect it, but I can hope for it or at least a measure of it.

I’m grieving because of the reality of her decline, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up hoping and working toward that much desired recovery.

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