Dementia: When Loved Ones Die Twice

Dementia: When Loved Ones Die TwiceI touched on this briefly during episode 78 of Toronto Mike'd, but after burying my grandmother yesterday, I'm in the mood to elaborate.

My grandmother died on Saturday, but I didn't shed a tear. After all, I had said my goodbyes years earlier.

In a sense, my grandmother died twice. First we lost her person, and this weekend we lost her body. My grandmother had dementia.

In her mid-80s, she completely lost her short-term memory. She'd literally call me, talk to me, and call back 5 minutes later as if she never called in the first place. This could result in dozens and dozens of calls in the span of an hour or two. At least when you spoke to her, she knew who you were and where she was.

About eight or nine years ago, her dementia advanced to a point where she didn't know who I was or where she was. She was in a long-term care facility, and my visits caused her such anxiety and distress I started going less often. At some point, I said my final goodbyes and mourned the loss of Grandma. Although her heart continued to beat, the woman we knew and loved was gone.

So yesterday, during the visitation, funeral and burial, I didn't feel sadness. I already experienced that emotion years ago when we lost her the first time.


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McNulty

I had the same experience with my Nanna many years ago.

It started in the same way...one Christmas she opened my gift, thanked me for it and put it back in the bag. Right afterwards she did it again. At first it was slightly amusing until she did it four or five more times and it became so sad.
At my wedding, she came up to me and was upset she didn't get to come to my wedding since she couldn't rememeber it.
After a few more years the woman I knew was gone. She was a body in a bed who would be lucky to remember me.

Her death wasn't sad to me as well. Her spirit and essence died years before. The worst part of the funeral was having to see my father after 4 years. But that's for another post.

May 29, 2014 @ 12:27 PM

Tim

Growing old and dying can be such a horrible and nasty business. I think we are afraid to admit that all of us will die of something. We will get cancer or have demnetia and fade away or we will fall and break a hip. The last few years of our lives will be not nice and death will be a relief. My mother died of cancer and it took a year to eat her to pieces. My friend has ALS and every day I see a little more of him gone. My other friend fell down the stairs and faded away to nothing over two years. We have to look at everyday ,we are well, as a gift. Treat people with love and kindness and smile and laugh as much as possible. Stop persuing monetary things and step back and look at the big picture. Spend your life wisely. It is so very precious

May 29, 2014 @ 12:33 PM

Philly-Bob

I went through similar times with my Grandpa 10 years ago. One minute he'd be fine, then next he thought he was back in Peterborough back in the 50's and I was my Uncle Pete. Other times he'd slip even further back and only speak in French (he was from a city outside of Paris originally). Although we mourned his death, we celebrated the fact that he was free.

...having to give the eulogy at my Nana's funeral 2 years ago still stands as one the most difficult moments of my life...

May 29, 2014 @ 1:09 PM

Geoff

My Mom has Alzheimers. She doesn't recognize me anymore and has pretty much lost her ability to speak. It is a terrible disease.

May 30, 2014 @ 9:11 AM

James Edgar

My Dad had Dementia.

He started having issues about 6 months after an operation for a hernia. The Dr warned us but he had have the operation unfortunately. He was 94 at the time ,my mom was 78 and she couldn't look after him so he eventually ended up in a home. It was about a year after he was there that he lost track of us.

I knew things were going very badly when he asked me how Wendel Clark and the Jays were doing and if Joe Carter was still a leaf.


Not long after he thought I was his Brother and we were working at a bomb factory during the war. ( he did do that at Hands fireworks but his brother was in Scotland)


It was very disheartening and quite upsetting.

I was pretty sad and broken up when he died but also relieved.

May 30, 2014 @ 10:16 AM

Rick C in Oakville

Sad for someone who has such a noble and dignified life to have to go through this with out realising it in front of their loved ones.
My father in law past away in 2003, and this was creeping up on him. The saddest part was when he lost the ability to play his side drum, having been in pipe bands over 70 years, it was a terrible blow for him and the family. Fortunately (unfortunatel?) he had a stroke and past away before he developed it fully.

May 31, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

Kenny

My mom died last November. She had dementia, always recognized me but wasn't sure what decade or city we were in.
She was 91, died 49 days shy of her 92nd.

My sympathies to your and yours Mike.

June 1, 2014 @ 5:13 PM

Cheryl

Sorry to hear about your grandma, Mike. That's not a good thing. Well, dementia is not a good thing to have. Well, death isn't so bad if someone has had a good life, but my momn died much too young of colon cancer when she was 50.

June 2, 2014 @ 10:42 AM

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