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Alzheimer’s Disease and Telling a Loved One About a Death

alzheimersflowerMy Mom recently lost her sister with whom she lived in a memory care facility.  It broke my heart to deliver the news to her, so I remained mum for a while and didn’t tell her.  She believed our Aunt was still alive in the hospital for longer than she was, as we contemplated how to tell her the sad news.

But God and the Universe had different plans.  For you see, her resident friends who knew Aunt Mable were also concerned about Aunt Mable and wondered when she would return home.  Mom was told that she was still in the hospital getting treatment, but in truth, she had passed away.  Little could any of us know that one little lady, who is wheelchair bound, blind and has hallucinations along with memory issues would be able to succeed in calling the hospital in hopes that Mom could talk with Aunt Mable and get more information.  A miracle unto itself that she accomplished this with her cell phone.  Sadly, she got the news that Mable had passed away and in a loving manner told Mom.  I know she thought she was helping, but her announcement wasn’t what we had planned.  We were trying to get to Mom to tell her ourselves in person.

Looking through the eyes of an observer, this little lady’s heart was in the right place.  She saw our Mom upset and wanted to help and when I see the situation with a loving heart, I am grateful.  But in that moment when Mom reached out to me, sobbing that she had heard that her sister had passed away and was frantic, I felt powerless.  I had wanted so much to shield Mom from the pain and be there when she found out in order to help her through her grief.  In the end though, life unfolded as it was meant to be.

It is hard for anyone with memory issues to remember, let alone to keep the information that a loved one has passed away, for their ability to remember fades and rallies, moment to moment.  The acceptance of what feels unacceptable (a death of a sister) is too much for the mind to handle and it fades, only to return after a bit and the grief begins again.  It’s a roller coaster for all involved as we try so desperately to soothe a broken heart as the knowledge comes and goes, along with the grief.

There’s no easy way and from my experiences, the only rule is to keep a loving heart, flow with the moment’s understanding and continue to offer love and support to Mom.  That’s all we can do in every situation quite honestly.  Be open, be kind and love.

May you find your Sunday to be filled with peace and love, this is my wish always.

Shine On!

xo