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Clematis

Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

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6 minutes ago, kayc said:

I hope you and Gloria find some peace during these five days as well as forge your friendship.  We want to see your paintings when they're done!  And bless you for being there for others on Thanksgiving.  I'm still waiting to hear from my kids...

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?

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Yeah, I don't want to make other plans and then get invited to be with my son and see my daughter, it's awkward to cancel yet I never want to miss seeing my grandkids if I get a chance!

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23 hours ago, kayc said:

Yeah, I don't want to make other plans and then get invited to be with my son and see my daughter, it's awkward to cancel yet I never want to miss seeing my grandkids if I get a chance!

oh...well, I hope they come up with something soon.

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My daughter texted me and said my DIL suggested we carpool.  So I called my son and asked if I was invited and where/when.  He said it's understood, and I told him they still need to let me know, I don't assume things and didn't know what their plans were.

I'm concerned we won't have much time together as I have to be home before dark and it's over two hour drive one way, but I look forward to seeing the kiddies.  They put them down for naps right after we get there, I've never heard of people scheduling naps at noon or just before, and they take long ones!  Oh well, will drive up there and hopefully get some time with them.

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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...

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OMG, I'm so sorry for this turn of events, that's horrific!

I hope you can share this with Gloria:
http://www.griefhealing.com/column-helping-another-in-grief.htm

I hope you still get in some paint time and find time to relax and renew...

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Laura I'm sorry for  the  horrible events for  your friend  Gloria . I do  hope  you all find a way  to  help out her friend Herman.  I do think you do great  paintings those are beautiful !!

Kay C  we are going  to mom's house for Thanksgiving . My  brother, sil and my nieces are going to be there along with my son  but we are like at times ho hum about it but at least this week we r better than we were last year as last year Brendan was having nasty coughing episodes and the grieving we were dealing with last year  not good at all. 

I had read online  somewhere  that sometimes   health habbits  create the stuff of sickness so then when my son slept in all the time   over the summer 0 coughing  then since this school year I been getting him to  have longer sleep which helps with the no coughing but if he lacks sleep  he starts coughing  so then I go Brendan you need more sleep  because  I think  your body is to wore out and your force to put energy into it when you lack sleep  which triggers coughing episodes for you  because your  not able to breathe properly when your tired .

 

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5 hours ago, lattiee said:

Laura I'm sorry for  the  horrible events for  your friend  Gloria . I do  hope  you all find a way  to  help out her friend Herman.

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 

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I hope he can get a live in caregiver so he doesn't have to leave his home yet.  he has enough to adjust to right now.

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2 hours ago, kayc said:

I hope he can get a live in caregiver so he doesn't have to leave his home yet.  he has enough to adjust to right now.

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?

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Laura,

People like that all you can do is just be there  for them and try to bring postivity in their life  like a homemade treat  ,  get a movie to watch together ,  bring  some meal  over  either homemade or from a restaurant  etc . 

I dealt like that with former neighbors who were like that  it's tough witnessing the  try for independence of being on their own  but in reality some of them do need  to be at a nursing home to see one of my family members that ended up  in the home  had hung  onto hope for  postivity  of that he was going home  soon  but to have him  think even a year after  being in that  nursing home  that he was going home but then he realized he wasn't going  home the depression hit  him big  time that he at times just shut down  which is  why you seem to see   people in there sitting in wheelchairs  looking like they are sleeping instead  they just   trying to shut the world  out  as its a spot they don't want to be at or  to see which is really  sad . 

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Laura,

I'm glad he has a new friend in you, sometimes just being there makes a whole lot of difference!  Happy Thanksgiving, dear friend!

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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.

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On November 23, 2017 at 6:17 AM, kayc said:

Laura,

I'm glad he has a new friend in you, sometimes just being there makes a whole lot of difference!  Happy Thanksgiving, dear friend!

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.

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That's hard.  Some people prefer to bury their head in the sand rather than tackle things and it sounds like his family might have that response.  I'm kind of going through something similar right now regarding my sister Donna, who is quadriplegic and unable to communicate.  Our sister Peggy is in charge of her affairs but no longer qualified to handle them, yet won't relinquish it.  We have a caregiver that the state revoked her licensing for double dipping with child care for her grandchildren.  Donna wants to live out her life with her and will pay rent to her but the state is taking her off Medicaid because of refusal to move wherever they want her to go.  Peggy doesn't seem to have a clue how to handle things and I'm trying to help her with advice about enrolling her in the Oregon Health Plan and Medicare before open enrollment ends.  She has a little more time for change of life enrollment but I'm not telling her that or she'll take her time and blow that too.  Another sister is freaking out over all this and I'm having to calm her down by explaining Donna's rights to her.  What an ordeal!

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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?

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Kay what is the deal with the sisters this year?  It must be in the air!

 

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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.

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On 11/25/2017 at 8:11 AM, Clematis said:

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?

Sorry, I didn't see this until now.  Yes, someone she's never even met.  We're not letting them do that to her.  She's 75 but aged beyond her years due to her circumstances, and I doubt she has a lot of time left, we want her to live it in peace, surrounded by those she loves and is loved by. 

On 11/25/2017 at 6:55 PM, iPraiseHim said:

Kay what is the deal with the sisters this year?  It must be in the air!

 

There are five girls and one boy in my family...he usually opts to stay away, but I've always had my sisters, I don't know anything else.  Polly has high anxiety and anger issues, plus wants to be in control, but she loves us and wants what she feels is best for us so we forgive her the rest.  Peggy lives to please but is super stubborn (well actually, we all are) and not about to change for anyone!  Julie is the high energy one that is always going, going, going, never slows down.  Donna is more laid back and well disciplined (we had her DNA tested, yes, she's really our sister!).  All of them very intelligent, but Peggy has early signs of dementia.  Not bad enough to put her in a home, but enough to drive us crazy with her inappropriate responses, it continues to catch us off guard.  I wish we had more relationship with Mick but he must have felt overwhelmed with five older sisters!

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12 hours ago, kayc said:

I wish we had more relationship with Mick but he must have felt overwhelmed with five older sisters!

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.

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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...

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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.

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Your post above is beautifully written, Laura ~ such a perfect description of grief and what we all have in common. Your friend Herman is blessed to have you in his life, and we are blessed to be included in your insights as you continue to be there for him in such a tangible and loving way. Thank you so much for sharing . . . 

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On 12/4/2017 at 6:34 AM, Clematis said:

It is probably merciful that he has memory lapses and I have my hectic job to distract us from all that is gone.

So true!  When my mom got further advanced in her dementia it seemed a blessing to her because in the earlier stages she was well aware that things weren't right with her and it scared her.  Later on when it was more advanced, she seemed to accept things as they were.

On 12/4/2017 at 6:34 AM, Clematis said:

And we still do have kitties, clocks, living people who care about us, good things to eat, and so on

I've found it life changing to focus on what IS rather than merely lament what ISN'T.  The practice of living in the NOW.

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