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The Loss Of A Parent Before They Die

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My mother died on October 25, 2004, that was the second time the first time was when I realized how changed her dementia made her. The mother I keep remembering was the one who would yell at me "I don't have Alzheimers". I would respond no, i don't think you have Alzheimers but something is wrong. For over 2 years I tried to get her doctor to examiner her and for 2 years "your fine, tell your children to stay out of your life". My mother was a gifted talented artist who could complete anything she set her mind to. I was never good enough for her yet I kept trying. I reconciled myself to love her and after my dad died 22 years ago, I tried to do what I knew he would want me to do. I know that she loved me but that last year was so hard. She couldn't cook, operate a TV, she continued to deny anything was wrong. She would tell me "you have to quit telling people that I am crazy". I would respond "I have never called you crazy". Now that she is gone I feel like I have been mourning for the same thing twice and practice does not make perfect.

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My dear friend,

I’m so very sorry for your loss, and for all the pain you’ve endured for such a very long time.

Your poignant message brings to mind the stunning phrase Nancy Reagan used to describe what it is to care for a loved one who is afflicted with this terrible, debilitating, progressive disease: it is indeed “a long good-bye.”

I don’t know what you’ve learned or read about Alzheimer’s – given what you’ve experienced these many years, I’m sure you could write a book of your own on the subject. But I want to let our readers know about the vast array of resources that are “out there” and readily available. Here are links to just a few of them:

Alzheimer's Association

Alzheimer's: Grief Misunderstood (Article by Marianne Dickerman Caldwell)

Caregiver Community

Caregiving.com: Helping You Help Aging Relatives

Coping with Caregiving: Radio Program

Empowering Caregivers - Choices, Healing, Love

Elder Care Online

Elder Care: Alzheimer's, Dementia

Elder Rage, or Take My Father . . . Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents (Book)

Family Caregiver Alliance: National Center on Caregiving

The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's

Forgiveness in Grief and Bereavement (Articles)

Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness (Book by J. Lynn)

Healing Well: Guide to Chronic Illness

It's Not Too Late! An Interactive Guide for Exploring and Expressing Love As Life Nears An End (Book by L. Pendleton and F. Bader)

Last Chapters: Stories about Living with Dying

National Family Caregiver Support Program

National Family Caregivers Association

I also want to suggest a book you might find helpful entitled Liberating Losses: When Death Brings Relief, by J. Elison & C. McGonigle

You have been through so much these last two years, and my prayer for you is that you will give yourself the gift of healing by finding a bereavement support group in your community. You are worth it, my friend, and you certainly do deserve it.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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