"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." — John Steinbeck, "The Winter of Our Discontent"
The longer we live, the more loss we experience. It is a natural but uncomfortable part of life. Loss may manifest in diagnosis or the death of a friend or family member — just fill in the blank. At some point in time, your heart will break from bearing the weight of loss.
Death is the ultimate loss
Death is the ultimate loss for those left behind. You say goodbye and let go until the next time your heart is bent in sadness. But as devastating as it is, life goes on. The world briefly stops as friends offer condolences, show kindness, and share loss and grief
as best they can. But life goes on. It must. Eating, drinking, and merrymaking continue, while the brokenhearted trudge sadly on.
Loss doesn't diminish for people with Alzheimer's. They are living their own kind of loss — including the loss of cognitive function, but other losses as well. And as their caregiver, you're sharing in it firsthand.
The death of a loved one may be particularly difficult for someone with Alzheimer's. Cognitively speaking, they may not have the ability to grasp or accept it. Even if they understand in the present, they may forget in the long term.
Patients ask about spouses, children, parents, and friends who've gone on before them, opening old wounds. Caregivers face the grim task of informing them as if it were the first time. Explaining that the person they love so very much has died is painful. Reliving the loss is akin to ripping a bandage from a scab, preventing it from healing.
On good days, my mothe