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    • CommentTimeOct 19th 2009 edited
    Gourdchipper, I originally post this to Texas Joe by mistake.

    First I would like to say how sorry I am that you lost Francis. You seem to be handling it well. I am not so sure that I will handle it as well when Kathryn passes.

    The way you expressed your feelings for your wife really touched home for me. I feel about my Kathryn the same way you felt about your Francis. I have always thought about her during my days, she is my life and has been since day one. I can not imagine life without her. Yesterday we went to see a movie and just before we got out of the car she started to cry. When I asked her why she was crying she said “I won’t be here next year”. I have never felt such a great pain in my life as I did right that moment.

    If Kathryn stayed the way she is right now I could live with that for the rest of my life and not have any regrets at all. I guess I have avoided thinking that one day she will not be here. At least not until yesterday.

    My question is how did you recover after you lost your DW?

    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeOct 19th 2009

    I think you have Texas Joe mixed up with Gourdchipper. It is Gourdchipper whose wife passed away. Check under the "Gourdchipper Now Has an Asterik" thread. The asterik next to the name indicates widow/widower. Gourdchipper discusses how he is coping in that thread.

    Jim, I’m sure Gourdchipper will answer your question soon, and although my DW is still with us, I feel the same as you, in that I could live a very long time continuing to care for her as long as I am able, and continue to build my ‘outside life’ for my own mental health. When she started hospice, the chaplain advised me to go ahead and make funeral plans, and that scared the heck out of me, sort of what you felt when your DW said what she did. I still have not done that yet, and am not looking forward to it at all. Hang in there, Jim, and I hope you get some helpful answers.
    Also GC has "Missing a Woman's Touch" discussion that he started yesterday.
    • CommentTimeOct 19th 2009
    Thank you, I will change the name.

    Texas Joe I am glad you still have your wife. I still have Kathryn at home and plan to keep her with me for as long as I can handle her care. I know there will come a day when I can no longer handle it and will have no choice but to hand her care over to those who are trained and able to provide the care she will need. I don't know how far away that day is. I can only hope it is not in the near future. I can see kathryn's memory slipping a little every day it seems like. She is doing ok physically and I hope she continues to until close to the end.

    I'm in the same situation as JimB and TJ. My wife has been the only woman in my life since our first date Sophomore year in HighSchool when I was 14 years old. We married 8 years later and have just "celebrated" our 55th anniversary. I put "celebrated" in quotes because she had no idea what was going on. Our daughter put on a party for us with a cake. Her memory is completely gone. 5 minutes after an event she has no memory of it. She is still very sweet and cooperative, and frequently tells me that she loves me and needs me. As long as this continues I will be able to take care of her at home. I know the end is not that far away and I have no idea what I will do with myself after it comes.
    JimB, it sounds like you and Kathryn are at about the same place that Frances and I were at maybe two years ago. We were still walking a couple of miles most mornings, still able to go out to lunch with friends every week or so, Frances was still getting lots of enjoyment out of Sunday school, participating in Sunday afternoon bluegrass jam sessions, etc. – and I was enjoying her enjoyment and would have been content for the status quo to continue indefinitely. Not the full life that we’d once lived, but still good enough. I guess I had consciously avoided, up to that point, really confronting the terminal nature of the disease -- although a year earlier I had begun “getting my ducks in a row” by going ahead with extensive dental surgery (and unplanned heart surgery), realizing that things like that would just become more difficult to work in as Frances’s condition continued to deteriorate.

    Then, within a matter of only about six months, beginning in November 2007, Frances went from being able to walk unassisted for a couple of miles to requiring assistance to even move about in the house, and her ability to participate actively in the things that she was still able to enjoy (bluegrass, Sunday school, etc.) became increasingly diminished and life really began to close in around us. It was at this point that I began to look into support groups (like this Spouse forum) for myself, and adult daycare facilities, both for my sake and for Frances’s sake – hoping that she might benefit from a “change of scenery” for a few hours a week and that I might benefit from occasional “respite time”. And it was also at this point that I really began to seriously read books about Alzheimer’s and own up to the terminal nature of the disease and start thinking in terms of my own life “after”.

    In some of my earlier posts on this forum I believe I commented that I was attempting to approach the situation like an engineer would approach a problem – looking at things realistically rather than emotionally and saying “this is where we’re at, as little as I may like it, so where do we go from here?” And I think I used another analogy of a football coach who needed to put a loss behind him and go on with preparing for the next game. I really believe that openly articulating those thoughts helped me move forward without feelings of guilt or self-doubt. Accepting the fact that Frances would pass away at some indeterminate future point and no longer be able to be a positive factor in my enjoyment of life, I was able to accelerate the process of “emotional detachment” that had already been going on, unconsciously, for years as her disease had increasingly diminished our capacity for shared interests and physical intimacy. My emotional dependence on her had certainly changed, and probably lessened, as I moved into the role of caregiver rather than lover and partner.

    But just deciding that I needed to emotionally detach and begin moving forward with new interests and relationships couldn’t have succeeded nearly so well if our son hadn’t seen fit to move back in with us and give me the opportunity (and encouragement) to move on. And I’d have doubtless had a harder time if not for Joyce, my “second best sweetheart”, with whom I was able to continue occasional lunch dates etc. just as both Frances and I had been doing with her over the year or so previously. So lots of stuff just seemed to fall in place – but maybe it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been actively promoting it and seeking it out.

    So, as a result of all the foregoing, the actual event of Frances’s death probably wasn’t as traumatic for me as it might have otherwise been. Having excellent hospice care for the last three months certainly went a long way in preparing me and making things easier, but yes, her death still hurt terribly – more than I had expected it would – but now, seven weeks later, the memories of those last bad months are fading fast and I’m beginning to be able to enjoy life again and look forward to new things. The old, healthy, Frances is now my pal – I have a large smiling photo of her in the living room and go out of my way to look in on her and give her a wink and blown kiss whenever I pass by, and she smiles approvingly when I tell her that I’m taking some of her ashes back to Mississippi for burial, or going out to a movie and dinner with Joyce, or whatever. End of story, for now.

    JimB, and you too marsh and TJ, I hope you’ll be able to take something positive away from the above account of my journey. If I had to try to give advice, I guess it would be to face facts, begin working at emotionally detaching, and do whatever you can to get enough respite time to allow you to begin actively trying to move forward – and incidentally, all three of you sound like you need and value “a woman’s touch” as much as I!
    • CommentTimeOct 19th 2009 edited
    Beautiful post, Gourdchipper. Thank you so much for sharing. Valuable thoughts for all of us to read and try to assimilate.

    Gourdchipper writes: "My emotional dependence on her had certainly changed, and probably lessened, as I moved into the role of caregiver rather than lover and partner."

    This is what we all have to do, and what some of us are struggling with. It is vital not to stay emotionally dependant on an LO who no longer has the capacity to care about the caregiver. Mine hasn't quite lost it all yet, but most of it. And I find that my own peace of mind depends on NOT looking to him for approval, affection, whatever. When he gets angry nowadays I only care because it's upsetting for HIM and I don't want to cause him unhappiness if I can help it.

    I'm not yet dealing with the idea of placing him or losing him -- much too early for that. But I do hope that the emotional detachment will help with both when these times come.
    • CommentTimeOct 20th 2009 edited
    Thank you very much Gourdchipper* I really appreciate your reply. I am glad you are doing well. I found your reply to be both heartbreaking and inspiring. I have printed it out so I can read it a few times and think about. I will have to wait to reply. My emotions are getting the best of me at the moment.

    Gourdchipper, I did not realized you had lost Francis so recently. It was hard for me just reading your post. I can’t imagine how hard it may have been for you while writing it. Are you ok talking about this at this time? I understand if not.


    Gourdchipper, that was a very moving post and much appreciated. I am so glad you are being able to now move forward with your life. You still have a lot to offer. Take care. Lois
    Gc, I am following in your footsteps, except for the girlfriend (none of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders have called me yet), so I'm doing o.k. I never had the fresh flowers or new pictures, etc., but the touching is going to be (and is now) missed. I used to sit on the floor in front of her sitting on the couch, and with my back to her lay my head in her lap, and she would run her fingers through my hair. Not every night, and not for long, but it was just a special feeling. Plus all the hand-holding, etc.....that will all be missed, but remembered.
    To the top. Interesting, and certainly gratifying, that marsh, Texas Joe, and JimB that I found myself "counseling" in this thread have all been successful in moving on and remarrying as I did. How about some success stories from some of the ladies who have similarly moved on?
    • CommentAuthorAmber
    • CommentTimeNov 8th 2017
    I think most members here know that I have a new, well three years now, gentleman in my life. Even though hubby is still alive but hasn't known who I was for years.

    I still make sure he has and will always have very good care but I refused to let this disease take any more of my life. So my life goes on in a positive direction.
    • CommentAuthorRona
    • CommentTimeNov 8th 2017
    How many years do we stay locked up living life and yet not really living the life we envisioned, asked for or wanted. I work at the local food bank once a month yesterday when looking at and talking to a number of the people having to utilize the bank I am sure they never thought they would be in that situation either. The point I guess is sometimes things are just beyond our control but what is in our control is how we deal with it. Like Amber, Lisa is still here, in a home now for 16 months, I am still there for her and will always be there for her, but I am in a new wonderful relationship. We now live together, as of this week, it is a new start, a new adventure, a new life unfolding. But Lisa is still my wife, for better or for worse and that will remain until the end. In my view because we are dealt a rotten hand, our spouse has Alzheimer's, it does not mean that our lives have to stop, it does not mean that we have to continually live in the dementia world with them.