A group of friends recently gathered to present a magic show at the memory community in which Marshall resides. These dear friends donated time and talent to honor Marshall and bring magic and laughter to the residents, staff, and family members. The hour-long show was packed with laughter and surprise.
The residents in this community are at different levels of memory. Few could grasp the full show. Most enjoyed the moment and returned to their rooms without any recollection. Some slept through it. Marshall was one of those.
It all made me sad, very sad. I mourned the loss of the fun Marshall and I had performing magic shows and working with these magic friends. I agonized over the fact that the show, the presence of dear friends, and the magic–Marshall’s life-long love–meant little to him. And I find it painful to attend any events with my husband in a memory community because we are in a memory community and he needs to be there.
Loved ones, and especially spouses and family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, are suspended in a state of mourning. So much prompts a sense of loss and heartache every day. It doesn’t get any easier. We don’t get used to losing our loved one a little at a time. As I’ve said before, it is death by a thousand cuts.
If you are in such a situation and find that you are feeling sad, angry, or depressed, recognize that you are grieving. The average length of time to live with Alzheimer’s disease is 8 years after diagnosis. Today, many, like Marshall, are living well beyond that. It can be decades.
That’s a long time for us to be in the claws of grief. We need to keep our heads afloat as much as possible all along the way to prevent the agony from affecting our own health. It’s important for us to acknowledge the pain, rest, maintain a balanced diet, exercise, lean on friends, and seek counseling.