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    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeFeb 20th 2017 edited
     
    Thanks AliM, it is too soon for you to be facing too much reality yet so be gentle with yourself.
    Wolf, feel free to say what you like, I rarely take offense at anything these days.
    • CommentAuthorLindylou
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2017
     
    Cassie, thank you for your sharing. It is my hope, realistic or unrealistic, for my partner to be home beside me when she passes. Your story is important and spoke to my heart.
  1.  
    It has been five months since my husband died. My daughter decided that we should go on a vacation so she made all of the arrangements and we went to a wonderful place that I had never been before. We hiked amazing National Parks, ate sinfully good food, and indulged on having a good time. Other than thinking I might die on one of the high altitude hikes (seriously - I said to her, "you shouldn't push old people like this!" We laughed about it later, when I clearly didn't die) it was a wonderful time. I think that going some place where there were no memories to haunt me, staying incredibly physically busy, and taking in an environment both alien and gorgeous helped to make it a therapeutic sojourn. It made me feel more alive than I have felt in a very long time.

    I share this because the road to recovery is sad and long and perhaps some of you will also benefit from going away to a place with no spousal memories. I realized that life wasn't over for me just yet. Physically stressed on the high altitude hike I also realized that sometimes there are not a lot of "choices" in life as we are led to believe. The only choice I had was to walk back up the trail and I willed myself to do it at a slow rate with frequent stops. Alzheimer's is like that. There aren't a lot of choices. You just put one foot in front of the other until it is over. Perhaps learning that with Alzheimer's kept me focused and not panicked. I don't know and don't want to read too much into it.

    But I do want to encourage other widows and widowers to get out of their grieving (comfort) zone. It can help reset the mind on what is good and reasonable and fun (all things that we lose sight of during caregiving).
  2.  
    Great post, Marsha.
    • CommentAuthorAliM
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2017
     
    marche, I really feel encouraged by your post. I am just past 3 months since my DH passed. Having spent only 6 nights away from home in the last 7 years, you have given me good vibes that I might just enjoy going to the beach, or somewhere, this summer. Those 6 nights away were spent in the hospital with some kind of serious bacterial pneumonia, so definitely not fun. Being the independent old cuss that I am, I ended up in the hospital after DD found me lying in the floor seriously dehydrated. That was a case of a caregiver (me) not taking care of myself. Thanks for your post and I am glad that you enjoyed your trip.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2017 edited
     
    Being in my third year down this road, things keep changing.

    For example I've been noticing that my cats are playing more. They've been playing with each other more too. They sniff each other once in a while and give the other one an affectionate nudge. They disagree more too and once in a while have a spat. They both 'talk' more. They both seek more affection from me than they have before.

    I wondered about this and I believe it may be another barometer that things truly are changing. I don't believe the cats have altered their personalities. I do believe i have altered mine. I'm the thing that changed this last year and two. I have more ability and desire to give affection. I focus on them more because I'm not as stunned anymore. I'm more tolerant of noise now and quicker to understand what that noise means. I've offered more latitude in their behaviour by not responding to sounds as though they're likely threats. I talk to them more. I pat them more. I'm paying enough attention where instead of realizing one was skinny and one was too big, I've managed them both to a good weight.

    The cats aren't doing the changing - they're responding to the changes in me.

    That describes my approach as well as any other. I see myself as my own pet owner. How I treat myself is going to be a reflection of me as well as create the reality I think I see. I believe both the strangest and the most successful thing I've done is become my own genuine friend. That's not how I set out. I set out by being fully sick and tired of both the moaning and the complaining going on inside. I usually like sitting in the balance but I was completely fed up with me in my life and became the drill sargent from beyond imagination. I grabbed my own throat in a vice grip and refused to let go until the critical voice inside learned the manners I was now insistent on.

    That's been life changing in ways that don't even involve Dianne, but affect my memory of her too. Many things cross my mind and don't stick but sometimes they do and those that did share the common thread that once I had arrived at a thought, I now believed that new thing. When those happen, they don't go away. Instead it's the other things that change to accommodate the new fact.

    My cats are quite pleased with the changes management is making. Their personalities are coming out more in the more nurturing environment. Perhaps one day management will learn to do that more too. After all, one of my cats was rescued from an abusive home. If she can do it, I can do it.
  3.  
    March 2 was two and a half years, and then March 7 would have been his 92nd birthday. The whole first week of the month I was a little emotional and felt fragile, but now that I've gotten past those two dates, I am feeling good about how interesting and productive life has become. It is pretty much a new life--the "new normal" as I've heard others describe it. I am outside a lot--lots of fresh air and exercise--and the dog is good company in the apartment and outside. I'm chugging along gradually getting the apartment furnished and decorated..I try to let it "settle down" a little before adding new elements--don't want it to look too "nouveau." And I'm getting together with friends a couple times a month for lunch, or going down to Manhattan. It's great to be back in my church...and there are just lots of nice moments--like running into an old acquaintance in the grocery store parking lot, and just standing there catching up for awhile...and ending up with a big hug. It's nice to socialize with all the apartment neighbors, too. It seems like there aren't enough hours in the day--I sleep like a top, jump out of bed at 6:30 am or so, and feel happy for all the things I have to look forward to. Lots of music and writing--I feel like for the first time in a long time...perhaps the first time ever...that I am living my life exactly the way I want, and I have to say that it feels good. Even just watching TV or DVDs in the evening is pleasant when I can watch whatever I want, with total control of the remote. I've honestly never been able to do that before. When you're caregiving all the time--whether Alzheimers or just taking care of a family-- it's all about the person/people you're taking care of...but when you're by yourself, you can make it all about yourself. Wahoo!
    • CommentAuthormyrtle
    • CommentTimeMar 10th 2017 edited
     
    Well, here I am, at last. I have not cried since my husband died, although I did cry once before he died, during the period when he was struggling so much. I assume the dam will break one of these days. My strongest reaction has been exhaustion. When I brought the cards and guest book and other stuff home from the funeral parlor, there was an 8x10 picture of my husband laughing while he was shoveling snow in a blizzard. (That was his idea of a good time.) It was originally a snapshot; I had it enlarged to display at the funeral. So yesterday I hung it on a wall over a low bookcase and put a flower arrangement under it, making a little shrine. That is very unlike me but I am getting some comfort from it. Sometimes when I walk by, I smile a little and blow him a kiss. Other than that, I am just hanging around and sleeping a lot.
  4.  
    Myrtle, I've got a little shrine like that too, and give Frances a wink and blown kiss every time I pass by. I think it helps. They're not really gone as long as we continue to remember and love them.
  5.  
    Myrtle, I think "just hanging around and sleeping a lot" is exactly what you need to do right now.
    •  
      CommentAuthormary75*
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2017
     
    You've been in my thoughts and prayers. I think nature is helping you regain your strength again. Go with the flow and know that we all care.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle
    • CommentTime7 days ago edited
     
    Still here. Not doing much. Last week I went to a neighbor's house for supper and with a friend to a bulb show at a local college but mostly I have been in a state described by Elizabeth shortly after her husband died, taking all day just to get dressed and going. And it's getting worse, not better. On Monday, I finally got dressed at about 3:00 p.m. but could not force myself to go out. Yesterday, I finally forced myself to leave the house in the late afternoon. Went to an upscale country market where I had seen mini-pots of spring bulbs. I planned to buy them as thank-you gifts for the staff in the veterans' home. I also envisioned sitting by the window and having a cup of tea and then picking up some fresh veggies and maybe a to-go dinner for myself at their deli. But the person who handles the flowers had already gone home so instead of the tea, veggies, and dinner, I had a melt-down. This morning I ordered the potted bulbs by phone.

    If I could describe myself now, I would say that I feel more free in that an unbelievably heavy burden has been lifted. But I also feel that I have been badly beaten up. It is not only the death of my husband. I also feel traumatized by the manner of his death -- where did I get the idea that Hospice would ensure "death with dignity"? -- and looking back on all these years, I realize what a nightmare this whole experience was for me. As with many things, I talked a good line, made a lot of jokes, and tried to put a good face on it, but the truth is that it was very harmful to me both physically and psychologically and I don't think most of this damage can be undone.

    P.S. I just remembered something else I wanted to say. My husband's remains were buried in my family's plot, where there is a large stone with my mother and father's names and space for other names. Last weekend, my sister called and offered to help me with arranging for an inscription on the headstone. I was taken aback because I had completely forgotten about the gravestone, the inscription, and even the cemetery itself. It was as though I thought he had disappeared.
  6.  
    Myrtle, you are absolutely right that it is physically and psychologically damaging and harmful. Just take the time it takes, get the rest you need, be as mindless as you need to be--spend hours on the computer, or lying on the couch with a paperback and the cat...you do not have to Do anything. Your physical and emotional strength is going into coping with the trauma you have been enduring. This is necessary and it is to be expected. And don't let anybody tell you that it isn't.

    This is going to take a while. I know you've been on the boards long enough to have listened to me, and to Wolf, and to so many others. And I know it has not prepared you, not one bit, because it is impossible to be prepared, even if you think you are. I'm not entirely sure about whether or not the damage can be undone. I think that's an inaccurate way to look at it. It isn't really the point. It isn't so much that you can undo the damage...but what happens over the months and years is that you re-build and branch out it new directions. I can honestly say that I have undergone a sea change, and I am not the same person--not even close--as I was before the Alzheimer years. It's like being on a new planet...but I like this new planet. It's different, but nice. And when I think back to the old days, it is with a happy glow. Alzheimers tried hard to win, but it did not win. The love you and Paul had and have for each other is going to get you through this, and it will never, never end. Alzheimers ends, but love is timeless...and eventually brings such joy.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTime7 days ago
     
    Myrtle, I have been trying so hard to come up with something profound to comfort you but I can't so I will just share my thoughts.
    The horror of all that you have been through will stay with you forever but in time it will be easier to bear.
    I do believe that we are "damaged goods," (after what we have been witness to) but it can still be possible to function and pursue whatever you need in your life.
    After your traumatised body and mind have regained some strength (which only you can measure) you will be able to look back and you will be astounded at what you have actually survived. And then despite the awful sadness you will be glad that your dear husband is no longer suffering and know that you gave him all that you had to give and more. His love for you is still there, along with the memories of your time together, safe in your heart forever.
    • CommentAuthorBev*
    • CommentTime6 days ago
     
    Myrtle, so much of what you said is so like me it's scary. I haven't made a shrine but I walk around in his bathrobe. It comforts me. I haven't yet called the cemetery to get his gravestone inscribed. I don't know why. It's important but I keep forgetting about it!

    I seemed fine the first month as well, but I'm really feeling it now. My kids want me to go to visit a friend in Arizona and at first I said I would but as the time comes closer I don't want to. I can't explain why, I just don't. I know they want me but the thought of going far away, packing, airports is overwhelming.

    I'm only barely two months out from his death; I want to stay here.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle
    • CommentTime6 days ago
     
    Bev, Do what you think is best. As for me, although I'd love to be somewhere warm, like Arizona, right now I'm not going anywhere. I've been abruptly torn from the life I've had all these years (as miserable as it was) and it's going to take me a while to get my feet on the ground in this new life. So I won't be venturing far.
    • CommentAuthorAliM
    • CommentTime6 days ago
     
    Bev and myrtle it has been just over four months for me and I finally ordered the marker about two weeks ago. Still waiting for it to placed. DD kept kindly telling me that she would go with me when I was ready. I finally realized that she was " Daddy's little girl" and wanted it done. I did go alone. I assured her and DS that I would not interfere with the future planning of mine. Just love family pressure. In the last couple of weeks I have begun to realize that the birds do still sing and flowers still bloom, so hold on and hopefully brighter days will soon emerge in your lives. We are not just waking up from a bad dream we are waking up from years long nightmares. Peace and comfort to both of you.
    • CommentAuthorCO2*
    • CommentTime6 days ago
     
    My dear Myrtle, the previous posts have said it so well. Hospice told me the first few months just eat, sleep, and talk. That is pretty much it. This grief thing is really a whole process unto itself. After so many agonizing years of care taking we are finally faced with caring for,ourselves. Just know there is hope. The healing will happen on its own timetable one day at a time. It is almost 2 years for me and although I have made progress it is slow. Some days are better than others but I think that is true for all,of us. As for the grave stone, it took me 4 months but I know someone who it took 3 years. God bless my friend.
  7.  
    It has been six months for me and today was my husband's birthday and I just feel numb. . . I still don't have a grave stone. The choices are overwhelming and I'm not sure what fits us yet. I have never even paid much attention to grave stones so I don't have a feeling for what aesthetics I like. Besides, it is so permanent and it isn't like I can change it once one is decided on. I think this is inertia. It is definitely one more decision to make for which I have no appetite.

    As for the grief malaise it is two steps forward and one step backwards. A flurry of activity is followed by days of dragging around. If it weren't for deadlines (like taxes) nothing would get done. And as for cleaning out the house so I can move. . . where is that fairy godmother when you need her? Oh yeah, she was just one of the many who vanished when AD reared its ugly head.
  8.  
    Talk about inertia, Its been 2 years and 8 months today and I haven't even decided where to bury him. He is still in a box on my mantle. I'm happiest when I am out and going. I find that being home in the bummer. I don't want to do house work and yard work is even worse.. I used to love the yard work. That's why I spend as much time as I can traveling . I guess its a way to escape it all.
  9.  
    Well, I've been in NY for three months, and have not been down to the cemetery--30 or 40 minutes away, depending on traffic. But you know, I feel so close to him here, where we lived for all those years. Church especially--wow--I can feel him right there beside me in the pew, and even sometimes walking down the sidewalk to the car. Sometimes it brings a smile, and sometimes a tear--not really a sad tear, but a poignant one. Hard to explain. It's nice to have him right there nearby. (Yeah, I know--whoo whoo whoo-whoo-whoo--The Twilight Zone.)

    Anyway, I didn't have to do the headstone thing, because we are/will be in the wall of a mausoleum. It is very nice--kind of like being in a dresser drawer, but in an outer, sheltered wall. With Hudson River views! His name and dates are on the wall, and my name and date of birth is already on it--date of death, not yet, of course. We don't want to rush anything--ha,ha.
    • CommentAuthorFiona68
    • CommentTime5 days ago
     
    Elizabeth, I strongly believe that our loved ones can stay with us after their death. I've had several people whose husbands have died this past year tell me that they feel their spirits with them, loving and comforting them. I'm happy you feel the comfort of his presence. I only hope that when my DH dies, he will visit me once in a while.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTime3 days ago
     
    Bev*,

    Maybe your forgetting about the gravestone is part of giving yourself a bit of focus on your own life right now. The gravestone may be important as you said, but that doesn't make it urgent.

    Call your friend in Arizona and explain you really want to but it turns out this is too soon. Could you have a rain check please?

    Your kids are trying to help which is good and that made you see what you actually want here right now which is good. When you call, you'll see they understand and will keep your seat open for you. Explain to the kids that you're glad they suggested it and that you will be going sometime later. Authorizing ourselves to be is part of this.

    MaryinPA*,

    Travelling is not escape. Travelling is travelling. In exactly the same way that putting your feet up for a bit isn't sloth. It's putting your feet up.

    Sometimes we use a phrase incidentally, and sometimes using a phrase helps us see how we're looking at things. You've often mentioned how much travelling means to you. You've earned the right to have that Mary.
  10.  
    Ditto to everything Wolf said upthread.

    I think things like getting the headstone or where to put the ashes just take the time they take. There aren't any rules as far as I know, and I think when it feels right, those things will be taken care of. Or not. I mean, it isn't mandatory, is it? I would think you just go with the flow and whenever the planets come into alignment, you just do what your heart and your karma tells you to do.

    A good friend of mine still has her father's ashes from 1991 (mother died in 2012) in her closet. She was saying that the last time she cleaned out the closet, she didn't see them, and hopes they didn't get sent to the Goodwill by mistake. Good Lord. Now that is a little beyond the pale.

    In terms of a big cross-country trip, I agree that it sounds exhausting at a time like this. Anyone would understand the sentence, "It's too soon." It sure would be for me. And don't forget Mary75's all-purpose, oh-so-useful line: "I'm just not up to it." It works for all kinds of things, and nobody can argue with you.

    In terms of the cruises, hey, Mary in PA, why shouldn't you have the right to live the way you want and do what you want to do? If anybody has earned it, you have. Life is too short to follow anybody else's agenda, and as a friend of mine used to advise us, "Don't should on yourself." If your "thing" is cruises, then God bless you, and you just go and take those trips.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle
    • CommentTime2 days ago edited
     
    In my case, the reference to the grave marker was not meant to convey neglect of duty -- I don't really care about it -- but to show what a space cadet I have become. Not only did I forget that the cemetery existed, the other day I drove the wrong way on the Interstate for 20 miles before I realized I had made a complete circle, ending up where I began. And yesterday, I put my food in the cat's dish and the cat's food on my plate. (Luckily, I caught that one in time.)

    P.S. I'm posting an update on the thread called "Trauma" that I brought to the top of the list, right below the stickies.
  11.  
    Myrtle, just rest and try not to put any demands on yourself. None. Do the very least you can possibly get away with...it has not even been a month for you, and you have had a very hard time. Of course you are going to be spacey--I think most of us are or were, when we were under similar circumstances. All of your energy is going toward grief and bereavement...you have just been through a huge shock...can't even think of a word bad enough...cataclysm, tsunami, earthquake, asteroid strike--be gentle with yourself, and just know that this is going to take a while. We are all here for you.
    • CommentAuthorBev*
    • CommentTime1 day ago
     
    You guys are all so terrific! I sit here next to my daughter's dog while dog sitting, which really makes me feel good, and it's difficult to,type because her big head is usually in my lap, and read this thread which gives me permission to do what I feel I must do.

    I know my family and friends mean well, they just want what THEY think is best for me, that I would feel better if I go away for awhile. I did convince them I would feel better just grieving the way I feel is right for me, that it is Just a short time since his death. Not only have I had to go through such a horrible time these past few months, let alone the past years, but I have been dealing with a problem with my knee, having torn ligaments and muscle sprains and inflammation since a month before his funeral. I am trying. I went out to dinner with my granddaughter, had lunch a couple of times with friends, and yesterday I went shopping and splurged on some new summer clothing. I'm just going to take a weekend or two away to a familiar place, spend some time alone in a place where he and I used to go, and just enjoy the birds, the flowers, trees, and being lazy. I've been doing that here at my daughter's house, alone here with the dog, eating, reading and watching TV. This has been good and it's what I want to do in the next few months. My friend does understand, the invitation is always open. I'll go when I feel ready. In the meantime, I'm so grateful for your support.