Today is Day 28 of my National Poem Writing Month challenge, and I have managed to write a haiku each day, often using an image to spark my imagination. Todays poem is called Alone and has me thinking more about loneliness, dementia and dying.
I’m not so sure the loneliness is any worse than when you are facing any other terminal disease or major crisis, except that the stigma and discrimination of dementia exacerbates the loneliness as so many cannot seem to get over their own fear of the disease. Anyway, I’ve been playing with thoughts and words on this topic for a while, so will now try to turn it into a blog!
There is a burden to illness that we must face alone. So much of how we feel is hard to put into words for others who are not on the same side of the fence to fully understand, one of the reasons support groups work so well. Yesterday we visited a friend who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and I could see the sadness behind his brave words and face, and the terrible burden he felt about the impact of his death on his wife and family. We have another friend facing this too, although further down the track in this terrible disease.
There are so many things we feel we cannot say to each other, feelings and sadnesses that sit heavily inside our heart, causing at times an intense loneliness, and often isolating us from our loved ones. Our partner is desperate for us not to die or deteriorate, desperate for us to ‘fight’ the disease. Yet the person with the terminal disease eventually comes to terms with dying, accepting it as inevitable, the ‘we live until we die’ philosophy. How do we tell the people we love we are ok with the prospect of dying, without it making them feel like we are giving up?
The loneliness really begins following a diagnosis of a terminal illness, as it is virtually impossible for each person to think about anything other than their own impending losses… The person diagnosed has been given a death sentence, but their loved ones have also been given a death sentence – of their current existence – and a life looming in front of them without their loved one. On top of this, our culture has not taught us to talk openly about death and dying. As Norbert Elias once said, ‘There is a tacit isolation of the … dying from the living.’
I’m so glad to have discovered blogging, as it has opened up and widened my world, and reduced the intense sense of isolation. Not through the act of blogging, although the therapeutic value of writing is significant, but because of YOU, the people who continue to share my load and brighten my world.