I've had the pleasure of meeting with two friends who've placed their wives in a facility in recent months. I could see the stress in their eyes. I could see the loss, the confusion, the bewilderment of their years of caring for their wives and having to give it up. Underneath their pleasantries and their courage, I could see their pain.
One topic we shared was the sadness, madness and bewilderment of the fact that their close family members have never come to see their wives. Such wounds added on top of their already unbearable loss..well..there are no words for it. These were people who were close back in the day..... when they were healthy. So many loved ones use the excuse..."I just couldn't stand to see her that way." or "it would hurt me so much to see her like that." or "I don't know what to say."
Grr! Hogwash! Get over it! It's not about you! This is no time for selfishness. It's about the loved one who needs you. People act as if the Alzheimer patient is already dead. But what they don't realize is that THEY ARE NOT! Jerry is still here. Betty and Mary Beth are still here. Allison still cries and then she laughs. YES, they still have names and they are HERE! They are not well...now is when we need you. It's still not over and, although we are becoming accustomed to it, our hearts are still filled with sadness, we are observant of meaningful relationships, those who have stuck by us, and aware of those who have not.
So, what do we do with all of this? How do we respond to the disappointment from people we thought cared? I suppose, after pondering a bit, I've learned to let it go...or at least stuff it down so deep that I don't think about it anymore. There was a time that I really resented it. After all they once were "best friends" "brothers" "sisters"....Jerry use to ask about them. But that opportunity for a relationship or any closure is gone. I don't hold resentment anymore. We've moved on. How could they possibly understand? How could I hold them to unrealistic standards if they just don't get it. Only those who have been on this journey can understand.
When Jesus was on that cross, being tortured, he cried out, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I am a PURE human! I have very human frailties and I struggle with this...as many, many Alzheimer loved ones do.....but forgiveness is the only answer. If I let myself dwell on my resentment or disappointment, it takes away whatever joy I can find. Forgiveness, is not necessarily for the recipient....it is for the forgiver. To forgive allows us to "put the transgression aside", allow God to handle it, and let us move onto more positive moments. Joyous moments that would be robbed if they were spent in bitterness.
I hope this helps you newbies and oldies. We are in this for the long haul so we need our positive and beautiful moments. Carry on.