wings and things

Hard work

on October 19, 2017

It is hard to work through the grief of losing a loved one. In and of itself, this is difficult and it becomes quite confronting sometimes, to say the words, “He died.”

As a volunteer for Alzheimer’s WA, I was asked to give a talk at a ‘caring for the carer’ morning tea on Monday. I took Ming and Meg with me and Ming and I presented together. Nobody knew us, so nobody knew that Anthony had died so, as I began to speak, I also began to cry as I said those words, “my husband died recently.” Ming took over as I tried to control my tears and I recovered quickly. Then we delivered our talk.

Today, as a volunteer for Red Cross, I attended a luncheon for carers and, again, Ming accompanied me. It was a lovely experience but, once again, I was asked a few times about my own situation and had to admit that my husband had died recently.

Every time I say those words I am so glad for the massive sunglasses I wear because they disguise the tears to some extent. Of course there is nothing wrong with tears but it’s still embarrassing.

Then, last week, I was interviewed on our local ABC radio station, about Anthony’s dementia and his death. Ming didn’t accompany me as he was working (he works at a restaurant), so I did it on my own and I spoke calmly and didn’t cry.

I feel very strongly about dementia care and am passionate about the importance of listening to people with dementia, and about going with the flow of their conversations, no matter how muddled. Anthony’s conversations with me, with Ming, and with Meg and others were meaningful even if they didn’t make sense in the usual way. These dementia dialogues were important, valuable, and full of love and humour – worthwhile!

The hard work now is to convince people of this, to convince people that the person with dementia isn’t dead and gone, to convince people to keep visiting that person even is she or he is in a nursing home and appears to be unresponsive.

The importance of this kind of hard work can’t be measured because it is too beautiful.

17 responses to “Hard work

  1. frangipani says:

    This is so true. I can’t begin to explain to people how my mother is still here and herself though she has forgotten many people.

  2. You are so beautifully inspiring. ❤

  3. susanpoozan says:

    You are such a trooper keeping up with your valuable work despite the problems it brings, I salute you.

  4. Vicki says:

    Never be embarrassed by your tears, Julie.

    Letting go of your emotions is just as, or more important, as reeling them in (behind a seemingly unemotional facade).

    They show the strength of your relationship with Anthony and the willingness to share with others in their hour of need. They show a person who other carers can relate to and a person who understands those carers deep emotional trauma at losing a loved one – either in Dementia, a Nursing Home or Death.

    Your willingness to share the years since Anthony left for the Nursing Home and your ability to articulate your feelings is what people need to see to understand why they should continue to visit their loved ones despite the lack of recognition.

    I hope you will continue to talk to audiences. I’m sure it will eventually get easier as time passes and besides Ming needs to see you ‘let go’ every now & then, so his own grief can open his heart to loss and moving on.

    Experience counts.

    Vicki xx

  5. ksbeth says:

    so true, and you are getting stronger every day. nothing wrong with tears, it is part of your story –

  6. Good for you Julie. What an inspiration…

  7. A smile, a touch, paying attention to someone with dementia always connects in one way or another. Your stories about Anthony help to confirm that. Keep up the good work!

  8. Judy says:

    It grabs my heart to picture you with sunglasses trying to hold in your sobs. I know that feeling well. Oh, Julie – it is now a time of “firsts.” The first days, weeks, months and especially holidays. It’s all new and wrenching. I feel your pain.
    Your journey will be lonely, but I’m also so glad you have Meg and Ming to share your grief. One day, the sun will shine again.

  9. Hard work indeed but a talk from you would be a talk from the heart

  10. heatherjo86 says:

    How brave of you to stand before crowds of people and continue to do your work despite your own difficult situation. I recently lost a loved one and the only thing that fights my tears is the hope I have that soon I will see her again in Paradise (Luke 23:43; Revelation 21:3,4). God truly provides us with the strength we need to keep on going. You’re such an inspiration.

  11. You (and Ming) have given and do give a gift to many you will never meet, by helping those who have loved ones with some form of dementia… because you give insight, compassion and understanding and feeling…. Diane

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