Toronto Mike

Dementia: When Loved Ones Die Twice

Dementia: When Loved Ones Die Twice

I 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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