wings and things

Friendships forged in nursing homes

on March 13, 2016

When you place someone you love into a nursing home, the beginning is a blur. You don’t notice any of the other residents or their relatives; you don’t notice the staff. You fill out the forms and you answer the questions about incontinence and constipation and immobility with a gentle smile on your faked face. You cry secretly and often but you become very good at hiding your ongoing, endless grief behind an enormous smile….

…. until you meet someone who is experiencing the same kind of thing with her wonderful, but ailing, mother. N is the most amazingly resilient woman I have ever met. She ‘lives’ two doors down from Anthony’s room and she has the most beautiful laugh and the most poignant cry.

It only seems a moment ago that we were all playing a game of ‘Memory’ in the dining room – N, her daughter, Ants and me. Sometimes we were joined by others; sometimes we were asked to move to another room because our raucous laughter was too loud; now both N and Ants are too incapacitated to partake in such games except in a pretend kind of way.

These two wonderful people, Ants and N, survive and embrace each moment of each day with a kind of stoic acceptance.  And, within the tragedy of our ongoing grief, N’s daughter and I have become friends.

This friendship means the world to me because it is forged in the steel of our shared heartbreak. Thank you, Shaz

10 responses to “Friendships forged in nursing homes

  1. Rhonda says:

    I’m so glad you both recognized a friend in each other and hope that one day, the heartbreak you share now, will be the bittersweet, yet happily re-told stories of those you love so much and how blessed you were to have them…xoxo

  2. susanpoozan says:

    You write so movingly.

  3. Hugs for you my dear Julie. ❤
    Diana xo

  4. A precious friend who truly understands what you are going through.

  5. Having someone who understands, without having to utter a word, is certainly a blessing.

  6. Vicki says:

    I always say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and I’m so glad you’ve found a kindred spirit who can share all your emotions in such a difficult situation. Despite the compassion and caring of the staff, nobody knows what you’re experiencing except those that walk the same path.

  7. It is wonderful that you two have been able to connect and share the joys and heartache of having a loved on in the nursing home

  8. Lynda says:

    Julie, this post makes me so relieved and happy, because I know you have a near friend to share with. You need this and so does she.

  9. Terry says:

    Out of every tragedy, a rainbow arises. I could see nothing but fog while Alvin suffered. The nursing home was worse because staff didn’t understand or recognize MSA. This put much added stress on me as I taught them all I knew in order for him to receive the best care. After everything was over and months and months later, I see the beauty of Alvin’s horrendous illness. New friendships, helping MSA patients by teaching them so they are not so fearful as I was. My new habit of searching for one small thing each day that I could smile at. I used to stare at squirrels, birds, tree leaves blowing, until that smile came, and then go back to the present, my brother. Love you dear friend

  10. lensgirl53 says:

    It is good that you have a friend who truly knows what you are talking about concerning all the emotions that surface. In my particular situation I am too far away to forge any friendships with residents’ families. I am glad you can tend to Ants personally and be familiar with those around him, including the families of other residents. 😊

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