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About Clematis

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  • Your gender
  • Location (city, state)
    Sedona, AZ
  • Interests
    Lena (my therapy cat), Playing music (cello, ukulele, classical guitar, etc.), Watercolors, Ceramics, Flowers-growing and painting them

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  • Your relationship to the individual who died
  • Date of Death
  • Name/Location of Hospice if they were involved:
    Hospice Compassus Sedona, AZ

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  1. I have a friend of 30 years, and although in some ways we know each other well, I can't read her mind and I find that when she tries to read mine it leads to misunderstandings. I find that it's helpful to directly say what I mean and ask for what I want, and it seems to work best when others do the same. Many times people don't know what to do or say when others are grieving. "How are you?" and "Are you ok?" sound like attempts to reach out, but maybe not knowing how to do it or what you might need. It sounds like you really needed a phone call and chance to talk things through with your friend, but she didn't know that. I hope you can find a way to work things out with her...it's hard to find 30-year friends. I can relate to this I have a 30-year friend, and she and I have had a lot of ups and downs. In fact I called her last night with some good news and she was obviously angry. After awhile she said something to the effect that she thought I was calling he to brag and "lord it over her" because she was having a bad time in the same area. So she realized that there was no way I was trying to hurt her with my good news because I couldn't possibly know what had happened to her - she hadn't told me. Last summer I had gotten so tired of her irrational responses to things that I told her that I had just had it. I told her something like, "Look - you are my only 30-year friend and I know that I am your only 30-year friend. We need to just get beyond these things that come up and move on anyway because we probably won't live long enough to get any more 30-year friends." So far so good - I think... Emails and texts are really hard because they carry no tone of voice, body language or anything else, and a message that would sound warm and caring in person or even over the phone may sound totally cold. I have learned the hard way that some things can only be made worse by more writing and I need to make the effort to work it out in person or on the phone. Good luck with your friend. It's hard for anyone when we are grieving and things seem really hard and we don't always react rationally to things. It might be worth picking up the phone and see if you can go back and try to have a "do-over". It sounds like a miscommunication both ways, and you might get your friend back...
  2. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    Herman's cat, "Pussycat" is getting braver and is checking me out to see if I am ok...it's good to see her out and not hiding under the bed. I am so glad Herman has her as a companion.
  3. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    I'm continuing to do my best to help Herman, my friend with dementia. His family, after some initial hesitation, has embraced me into Team Herman in their family effort to help him have what he wants, which is to live in his own home as long as possible, perhaps until his end. I have been working on coordinating services for him, as I did when I worked as a medical social worker. This is good, since the family is out of town. They really need someone in town who can be their "eyes and ears". It is easy for me to pop in to check on things, pick up little things at the store, etc. I am also trying to help Herman with his grief. He cries a lot, and that seems healthy, even though it is not always clear which part of his grief is closest to the surface at any given moment. He has had so many losses...both of his wives, recently his daughter, and all of the people that he has outlived due to his age (90 next summer). He remembers my dad clearly and he cries every time his name comes up, but his significance to Herman as he looks back changes. Sometimes he says that Charlie was one of his closest friends. Other times he talks about how he could always relate to my dad because they were so close in age (9 months apart) and had similar experiences. I think the latter is closer to the truth, but I think in some way my dad represents to Herman all of the many people he barbered over his long career. All of those people who he attended to with love and interest and enthusiasm as he snipped away... Herman has lost all of that and so much more. He has lost his ability to make a living, fly an airplane, drive a car, manage his personal life, and so much more. He cannot record new information - or not very well anyway - and he is very aware of this. He brings this up frequently, lamenting his hoss of memory and feeling badly that he cannot keep anything in his memory. I keep reminding him about how I bought him a new memory for $1.99 at Walgreens in the form of a blue composition book. Anytime someone comes over they log it in "Herman's Memory Log" and then he can look at it later and have some idea of what he has been doing that day. When his son, daughter-in-law, or I talk him through taking him through his meds over the phone, we have him log that as well. Then if any of us call him to check on him, he can pick up his $1.99 memory (the composition book) and read off what has occurred. This has seemed to give him some confidence, and he always laughs about the $1.99 memory. Nevertheless, he struggles so much. Last night, he took his meds and went to bed, but woke up later from a dream (that his daughter had died) to the realization that it was true. He called me in a panic thinking that it had only been a day or two since she had gone and he had just learned this. He said that his memory has been slapping him around. I said yeah, that was true, but his grief was also slapping him around. It seems so normal and so typical of all of us in grief that the grief comes in waves. We are distracted by other things and suddenly it comes back and slaps us alongside the head. Time seems distorted to all of us - how long has it really been and how long does it seem? We can get lost between dreams and reality and sometimes the dreamlike can seem more real than the now. This is so much my experience since my father died. Sometimes I feel like I am less in the now and more in the past - even in a time before I was born. Perhaps this is partly because I now have my father and moth of my grandfathers as "guardian angel companions". Or maybe its mostly just grief. Last night I had a dream that my cat Lena slipped away from me into a rainy night. When I awoke to a quiet house in a dark dry morning with no living parents in a land where is has not rained since August, it was hard to know what was the most and least real. After a panic I found Lena curled up and dry, but I still feel unsettled. And still in grief... Herman cries and I feel his loss...his loss of everything. I feel it too. It is probably merciful that he has memory lapses and I have my hectic job to distract us from all that is gone. And we still do have kitties, clocks, living people who care about us, good things to eat, and so on. I am not sure that Herman's experience is really much different than my own or that of any of us. I know what day and date it is, and can say the date of my father's death and can calculate that was almost two years ago. I know very well that this "season of grief" the two year anniversary is upon me like a fog and that it is two years. I can also recall many events from those two years, but it is jumbled together and not in a straight line. It seems like his death just now happened and it seems like an eternity ago. At the core, I think maybe we are all in the same place...
  4. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    My dad used to talk about this a lot - how hard it is for a boy to have an older sister. I always thought that was odd because he was an only child until he suddenly had a baby brother at the age of 12. I believe now he came to this insight and awareness by his father, who had four older sisters.
  5. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    Things are better with Herman. His son has decided that my help is a good thing and we are working as a team to help Herman...me, the son, Gloria, people from the church, meals on wheels, etc. I suggested and provided a composition book to use as a "Memory Log" for Herman since he can't remember what he did. Everyone who goes to the house is writing in who they were, when they came by, and anything that happened, such as meals, meds, or anything of interest. Then Herman can refer back to it, and can also answer questions about what he did in a day and who came to see him. We had some talk about his daughter's recent death...his son didn't want to keep telling him because he would cry so much when he faced this information again. Nevertheless, the knowledge has filtered into his knowingness and he seems to be grieving in a normal way. And his son decided it was ok to just be with him where he is at any moment. If he says "she died, didn't she?" we say yes and be with him in his grief. If he doesn't talk about her or seems to have forgotten, we don't bring it up. It seems like a good way to help him grieve. Mostly I am being a friend to Herman. Today I went by his house three times and he seemed to be doing ok. In the morning, I brought a ukulele with me and sang some of the songs that were popular when he and my dad were young...I grew up singing and listening to those songs. It was fun.
  6. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    That sounds really hard, Kay, having one sister out of commission, having to depend on another who is not dependable, and having to cope with the other sister's emotionality. Where are they trying to get Donna to move? In with another caregiver?
  7. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    Thanks, Kay! I think his family thinks I am a nuisance. I have offered information about services for the elderly in the community and offered to help coordinate services and be "eyes and ears" for them since the son who is handling things lives 3-1/2 hours away. For me, having worked as a medical social worker, this is kind of like being an off-duty life guard on the shore watching someone get dragged toward a riptide but refusing help while I'm trying to throw them a lifeline. Meanwhile Herman is right in the middle of it, getting more confused all the time and knowing that bad things are going on that he doesn't understand.
  8. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    Herman's family members have arrived on the scene and I'd say things have been uglified considerably by family drama. It's painful to watch. They figured they could just pack him up and take him to another part of the state, drugging him if they have to to get him into the car. As far as I know, that is considered kidnapping as long as he is a competent adult, and his doctor, on a home visit on Thanksgiving, made it clear that in spite of the fact that his judgment is questionable, Herman is very well able to state his desires, which is to stay in his home. I don't think his sons know the difference between having a power of attorney and a guardianship. They are reluctantly working on a plan to have him stay at home. One of the worst things about this is that the son who is the obvious person to handle things has decided to tell Herman that his daughter is not dead but visiting relatives. When Gloria was there she kept telling him over and over that the daughter was dead. Now he is being told that she is not dead and I think it is compounding his grief and confusion to lie to him. I think it also is probably making him more fearful and suspicious of his son's intentions.
  9. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    He does! And he's strong and healthy...I told him when I left last night that he and I are now friends. We weren't before - we barely knew each other - but now we are... When I left last night he told me he really didn't understand why I was there and I told him, "I'm here for you." I hope I can help him in some way to have some of what he wants. I don't know what is possible for him at this point, but really - do any of us ever really know what is possible?
  10. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    Yeah, it's really awful. I spent this evening at Herman's house with him and Gloria. Herman repeats himself a lot and has some confusion, but in some ways he is as clear as could be. We began the evening with my asking him how he was and him shaking and crying in my arms over the loss of his daughter. Then we had dinner, talked about clocks and birds and my dad and the army and how to sharpen a blade on a strop and everything else under the sun; he was chatty and engaged. Then it suddenly came back out of left field and slapped him that his daughter was gone, and he was contorted in the agony. In between we talked in bits here and there about his situation - he is adamant that he won't leave his home and the consensus is that he is not able to stay there alone due to his memory loss. His doctor actually plans to visit the family for a "family meeting" on Thursday. I feel for him...it sounds ominous... Being with Herman, caring, being present without judging, and bearing witness to his grief is something I can do. But watching the struggle of him trying desperately to hong onto his life at home while the family tries to assure his safety by getting him out of there is awful. He is begging to be rescued from their attempt to rescue him from the potential dangers of living alone. There is a lot of fear all around and uncertainty in every direction. No one knows what would happen if he were to live alone. Maybe with enough support he could be ok for awhile. Who knows? I wish I could get him what he wants - or help him anyway to stay at home. But I can't save him. I couldn't save my dad and I can't save Herman either
  11. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    I hope you get some good time in with them, and have a good holiday. My friend Gloria may not be joining me for Thanksgiving...she is in the middle of an awful situation. She has an old friend, Herman, whom my dad used to know as well. I knew him a little, but never well. He was a really great guy. Herman has dementia from Alzheimer's disease and his daughter was living with him and taking care of him. But suddenly the daughter lost control of her car and had an accident...as it turned out when she went to the hospital the thing that was wrong with her was that she had liver cancer and then she was dead two days later. Herman also has two sons but they live in different parts of the state-each about two hours away. One son just had some medical problem of his own - with his foot I think, and the other has horses and he has to go home every night and take care of the horses. They all want Herman to go live in a facility near his son with the horses but he is adamant about not leaving his home. Gloria has been staying with Herman for the last two days and they are trying to figure out what to do. I have to go to work today but I'm going to see what I can do to help out. What an awful situation, and right before a holiday makes it a lot worse. My dad was totally calling apart two years ago between Christmas and New Year's, and I felt like I was in total free fall. I couldn't get anyone to do anything. People kept promising to do this and that but it all fell through due to the holidays. I don't know what I can do to help but maybe I can at least help assess the situation and be there. I used to work as a social worker for a home health agency...maybe I can help Gloria and this family figure out what to do. They have made a start and I may be able to figure out what other options are around...
  12. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    oh...well, I hope they come up with something soon.
  13. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    Thanks Kay, for your kind thoughts. I will definitely share my paintings; I am trying to focus on that now. What kind of flowers to get, what else to include, where are my painting supplies, do I need anything I don't have, etc. Waiting to hear about holiday plans?
  14. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    It's a hard season, the holiday season. For me this is also the season of the end - not just the anniversary of his death but all that led up to it. I did't know it was leading up to his death but looking at it afterwards that is clear. For two months he was really going downhill but I thought it would be like all of the other times when he went had ups and downs and came up close to where he was before. He had a series of falls in December that he never got over, but the beginning of the end was in November. I keep going over and over all of the painful details of what turned out to be the final decline. I also keep ruminating over all of the ten years before that when things were good, how I've lost my sisters, and all of that. My sisters and I speak now but there is really very little that is good about it. It is clear that they are pinning a lot of blame on me. Blame for what I don't know, but they just aren't in my life. Maybe they weren't before either - maybe they were just using me so I would assist them in getting him to help them financially. That all feels rather icky. Sometimes it seems like I've come a long ways - as have we all. But sometimes it feels like I am just sinking into an abyss. Again. Still. Eternally it seems...
  15. Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    I think it is a season of grief...or at least for me it is. Tomorrow is my dad's birthday, then it will be Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, New Year's, and the anniversary of his death. The winter he died was so cold and it seemed to go on and on forever. It's a good thing I have a job that keeps me really really busy. During Thanksgiving I am using my timeshare to get a place here in Sedona. Last year I did this in December and got a lot of painting done. This year I am going to "timeshare" the unit with my new friend Gloria. She lives in a very small space with her daughter and granddaughter, and will enjoy having a resort space with some peace and quiet. She'll stay there at night and I can paint flowers in the daytime - I have five days off from work. I don't really want to stay there at night and be away from Lena. In the evenings we can enjoy the Jacuzzi and heated pool. She is in the Elks club and we are both delivering meals on Thanksgiving during the day. It's nice to have a new friend. I just met another woman - an artist - that I hope might be a friend as well. We all three have some commonality...in grief. They are further out on theirs, but know the path well. It's nice to be getting some companionship finally, but it's hard. Maybe this year is not as hard as last - it's hard to tell. At least I'm not suffering from a TBI, and I suppose it's good to not have to cope with two houses - my dad's and my own. But I miss his house. I miss him. I miss all of those who are gone and my whole past, including my sisters, even though they still love and breathe. I keep finding myself with that sinking feeling like I can't breathe and can't swallow. I guess it's the season...