Recovering from grief…or do we?

I’ve been away from posting for a long time. I take this as a positive sign of my recovery from grieving. But, do we ever fully recover?

Sure, I know grief is personal and subjective and everyone handles it differently; there is no right or wrong way. Everyone has their own timetable and needs to find their new normal.

But now and then those triggers pop up. Just when you think you have things under control – BOOM! – you see or read something that sets you back. This has happened to me a couple of times post-recovery. I try to avoid articles on dementia and Alzheimer’s because an uneasiness comes over me but at the same time, they draw me in; they’re so compelling. So, I’ll scan over them. Some are upsetting to me because I find myself second-guessing my care, reflecting on “should I have done this or that”, “why was I impatient at times….she couldn’t help it”, and the like.

Such an article, and a beautiful one, written by Dan Gasby set off that trigger recently. He is the husband and care partner to supermodel, restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef, and nationally known lifestyle expert  B. Smith, who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s,

The loss of my mother is still relatively new. In February it will be four years. I was depressed for the first 2 1/2 of those years during which I had a daughter and a son get married and welcomed two beautiful grandsons into our family; I now have a third due in a couple of months. Most days are good. When I think of my mother now I think of happy and fun times. I’m not bogged down by those deepest feelings of loss. That is a sign of recovery. I believe I have found my new normal.

Still, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her or miss her.


Three years and coping

It seems a little surreal and hard to believe that today marks three years since mom’s been gone; seems just like yesterday and an eternity at the same time. I received sweet texts this morning from my daughter-in-law and friend, and phone calls from my daughters. I’ll visit mom later today and go to minyan tonight even though I went last week for her yahrzeit, the anniversary of the day of death in the Jewish calendar.

I went back into my email correspondence with Ted, trying to find something. I often referred to Ted as “T.” in my writing, and came across L’s exquisite eulogy that so embodied the essence of mom.

During the heavy grieving period we all cope differently. For me, it was wearing mom’s clothes and using her nail polish on my toes so when I looked down at my feet it was like looking at hers. And today, I’m wearing one of her sweaters and a pair of sandals that I bought with her.

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of mom or tell her how much I love her. As Ted so poignantly and elegantly told me as only he could, “nothing dies that is remembered.”

In that case, mom is very much alive in me … and always will be.

Stumbling and Recovery

Something very strange happened to me last month. Or maybe it’s not so strange. For all the positive steps moving forward in grieving the loss of a loved one, you can stumble. And that happened to me last month.

I still get the shakes when I see the word “Alzheimer’s” in a heading or within text. Still, I read a review of “Still Alice” in The New York Times last month. But it was the readers’ comments that hit me hard.

As I read some of them, I started crying. They brought me back to my care-giving experiences. Not only did I share many of the readers’ experiences but it caused me, again, to question my care: Did I do everything I could? I knew mom had dementia but did my denial of Alzheimer’s hamper my care-giving? Should I have quit my job to be with her all the time? I still see her big smile and eyes light up when I would stop by for breakfast on my way to work. Could I or should I have done things differently? My friends and brother will give an emphatic “No!”

I think care-givers always have these doubts, especially after losing their loved one. But these comments hit such a nerve in me and set a trigger off so much so that I contacted my local Alzheimer’s Association to look into a support group. And as I’m on the phone with the rep, I just started bawling. My emotions were just so raw – something not experienced for a long time as I was doing so well.

Well, after calling the group’s facilitator and finding out she was no longer there, I guess I got over “it” because I chose not to follow through and lost interest. I’m still thinking of contacting them to find a group. In the grieving process one thing I have found, at least for me, is the need to talk. I’m sure it’s the same for most.

PS I have not yet seen the film … but I will.

PSS Gratefully and thankfully my daugher is fine. Her brain lesion is gone, and one month after her second MRI in December, she went on to run the Houston Marathon and a PR – 4:20:07!

Yes? No? Maybe? Yes!

First it was yesterday. Then maybe Wednesday. Then Friday. Now Wednesday.

I’m talking about mom’s discharge from rehab. I think I have had some lapses lately in my judgment about an understanding on my part of what mom is capable of remembering about decisions she has made. Essentially, I have to coax her on some decisions.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, mom seemed a little hesitant about her discharge and about wanting to go back to her apartment in Assisted Living. I do believe that she confused the two places and her desire to return to her apartment came out as her wanting to stay in rehab.

However, when M., Assisted Living’s director spoke with mom yesterday, she again voiced some hesitation. When M. asked what her concerns were, mom said she didn’t have any friends there. This is not true. She knows several people there and has seen them on and off from visits to her apartment downstairs and some programs they’ve had.

I don’t think I’m covering up for mom when I say that in a short period she has gone through several changes and with her condition it can certainly cause confusion. She was in Assisted Living for only two days when she had her fall. A four-day hospital stay was followed by a two-month stint in rehab. Even though rehab was in the same senior living complex where she lives and is one floor above her apartment, it is still a lot change.

So, I just got off the phone with mom, talked about her discharge tomorrow and she is ready, willing and able.

Here’s to tomorrow then!

Seniors are not dead!

Over the weekend, after mom’s day of beauty at the hair salon, I mentioned that we went to the mall in search of a new lip color since Estee Lauder discontinued her Hot Chili lipstick.

While the young woman who assisted us was very nice and very helpful, and did find a near match but in a glossy/shine finish, she said something that really bothered me and taken aback by.  I know she didn’t mean anything by it and it was innocently intended but it’s been festering in me for days.

She said, “It’s great that you’re still interested in make-up.”

Hello? Why wouldn’t she be? Does age dictate whether you should have an interest in your appearance? C’mon!

I might be a bit more sensitive not only because it was my mother but because I spend spent a lot of time now around seniors, particularly while my mom is in the last days of her rehab.

There are a number of people recuperating from worse things than my mom. And their appearance may not be their best, but they are people. Heck, my mom hasn’t always looked her best in rehab, but they are all living and breathing human beings with feelings. We aren’t always able to choose our own destiny.

Anyway, not sure if we’re going to keep the lip gloss. Mom is trying to salvage the last bit of her beloved Hot Chili.

When I found out earlier year that Estee was discontinuing it and it was no longer available in our local stores, I immediately sought action on the internet. Estee has a great department for discontinued items appropriately called, “Gone But Not Forgotten,” where they will scour sources for you. I already used this service and got three new lipsticks. I now need more.

For the hardcore, of which I can sometimes be but not this time, two sites on eBay are offering it as a “Buy Now” for a crazy $31 and $47.89! I’m also watching two bids, which are at a more reasonable $10.31 and $17.75; the bidding ends tomorrow at which time I will try to go in for the kill.

As a past eBay bidder, I’ve learned there’s an art to online bidding.