If you feel that you’ve already lost your loved one, even though he or she is still alive, you may be experiencing some of the classic and normal signs of grief that usually aren’t felt until your loved one has died. Reading articles, websites, and books about coping can be helpful, and you can also consider some of these ideas.
Know That They’re Still There
Remember that at one time, your parent knew a different “you.”
You as a baby, a toddler, and a child were a different version of you, but it was you nonetheless. If you can see your parent as being at a different phase of his or her life, it can be less painful than allowing yourself to think that he or she is gone.
Cherish the Memories
Make the assumption that your loved ones can see and hear some of what you’re saying and doing. Talk to them, read to them, and continue the same as you would if they were sitting up smiling at you. It will absolutely give you much comfort in knowing that you have truly done your best.
Be Kind to Yourself
Were you patient enough? Did you love them enough? Did you respond quickly enough to feed them, change them, and answer the phone when they called? Were you…good enough?
Yes. You were. The loving care that your parent is receiving now is a result of you being “good enough.” Your parent cared for you, and you were able to come full circle and care for him or her and ensure that he or she is receiving the best possible care.
Explore Others’ Experiences
When he was diagnosed at the age of 57, Tomas DeBaggio wrote Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer’s. His book, the first of its kind, chronicled the extraordinary account of his journey through the disease. He said that it “silently hollows the brain” and slowly “gobbles memory and destroys life.”
He wrote the book for himself in an effort to remember his life before he lost it forever, but it serves as a landmark piece of literature that helps the aging and their families understand the mind of the Alzheimer’s victim.
The first step in this challenging time is for families to understand that their loved ones are not gone. They may appear to be gone, and their doctors may say that their minds are gone, but they are still there. All research indicates that though they may not respond to much and they cannot express themselves, they do feel.
Above all, be good to yourself. This time is probably at least as difficult for you as it is for them.