If you are someone with dementia, or supporting a person with dementia, remember they may have hurts and losses, perhaps even similar to what I describe below, but consciously or unconsciously exacerbated with all the ‘joy’ of an occasion like Christmas, that is ripping up their heart inside, and making them seem more anxious, upset or angry.
They are grieving too, perhaps, for the loss of, and homesickness of a ‘home’ they can never return to.
The family in my life who still have a relationship with me consist of a very small number of people related to me by blood, and a very large number of close friends, my ‘chosen family’, who love me exactly the way I am, awards or no awards, farts or no farts, having a direct way of telling it like it is (for me), and every other easy to live with, or difficult thing about me! Thank you.
I love you all more than I have the words to tell you and without you, the loss of ‘contact and connection’ with so many I am related to by blood or was once very close to, would be far more devastating.
Not one phone call from my parents, sisters, nephews or nieces now for some time, some no contact at all for many years. Heart breaking? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it? No. I have tried countless times over the years, and the abandonment and unkindness simply got worse and more devastating. There are also a small group of people who were like family to me, who have also cut us out of their lives, and this hurts in a way I do not have the words to express. No argument, no explanation, just no contact, and after a few years of trying to stay connected, and getting no response, I have also had to walk away.
Not being invited to a Godchild, niece and nephews wedding, and other significant events like that, make it so much harder, and on these occasions, I usually cry for days, sometimes week on end. It would be so much easier if there had been a huge argument and then we had decided not to be friends anymore, but the absence, and the ongoing silence, roaring inside my soul, is deafening. It also has meant our sons have almost no relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and those people we thought were as close to us as family, making it so much more unkind.
The tentacles of loss deepen and stretch the boundaries of all of our hearts.
So I have to live my life as if they do not exist, as that is the only way I can emotionally survive. The biggest challenge with that is at times like Christmas, when all the adverts and so many of the quotes and images around me are of happy families, who all appear to love and support each other (yes, I know much of it is advertising, and a lie), makes managing and living with the loss of not having a relationship in particular with my parents and sisters, so much harder to bear… I guess I still love them, based on the fact it hurts so much not to have a relationship with them.
Add in the dementia factor, and one simply has to accept or realise that it is much harder to be rational about these things, and to find ways to live with them without crumbling.
All I can hope, is that one day I actually forget them.
Authors Note: it is only through such raw honesty about how I feel, and what the experience of these losses has been like, that I feel I can survive it at all…
Please, no sympathy as that is not what is needed here, just acceptance and understanding, and perhaps a shoulder and an ear.