The burden of sorrow.


Yesterday was a difficult day with my Mom, who is struggling with aphasia (an inability to find your words) and dementia. There were tears (both of us), heartbreaking apologies (her) and a lot of hugging and reassuring (me). When I left her at the end of the day to go back to my cat and a late dinner, the image of her tear-streaked face followed me.

I carried the weight of this through my evening routine. I began wondering if she was OK, and if I should check in on her. I kept going over everything I had said and done, wondering if I could have done it better, differently. Finally, unable to stop the circle of worry that had invaded my brain, I picked up the phone and called her.

She sounded fine, even cheerful. "Why are you calling?" she asked, because the reality is that she usually calls me, not the other way around. "Oh, I was just wondering if you're feeling better," I asked casually. "I'm fine!" she said, "Was I not fine before?" And I realized that she had completely forgotten our tear-soaked afternoon. I quickly distracted her by switching the conversation to the weather and other trivial stuff.

My point? They forget. We don't. Caregivers carry the burden of the sorrows we experience, which can pile up in the corner like discarded garments. They accumulate, because we don't have the "forget filter" of dementia. Lingering and growing, these sorrows become a serious source of stress, sleeplessness, constant worrying and anxiety. They can also become a touchstone for our self-pity, a place we go to for a form of negative comfort. Ultimately, the weight of that sorrow can flatten us into dullness and depression.

Yesterday was a reminder that, as caregivers, we need to lighten up. Relieve ourselves of the burden of sorrow. Put it down, shake it off, understand that we needn't shoulder it forever, or alone. There is a zen in forgetfulness. If my mother can let it go, why can't I?

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whew, i went through that last week with my mom... it was the very first time I could not interpret her word salad and it Really upset me.

Rainmom.....I loved your take on this.....hope and forgiveness. I have been struggling the last few years with the deaths of SO MANY of my friends and acquiantences only in their 50's, and a tragic passing of a teenage boy. I ask why they are taken before their time and the 95 and 101 year olds in our lives are so negative and unhappy, yet go on forever. Only God knows why and when we go.

I am signing up for that Evelyn Wood speed forgiveness class. Anyhow, you provided me with my inspiration for the day. Thank you.


I think the same is true regarding difficult relationships with our aged loved ones. Lately I've been thinking about why my mother continues to hang on in spite of her physical and mental condition. Am I supposed to be learning something? Is she? Am I being given a chance to forgive before its too late? I decided to give the later a shot - since a visit last week found my mother in horrible shape. I left the NH in tears wondering if she'd make it through the weekend. Why was I so upset? Wasn't this my chance at freedom at last? I started to think about all the posts I've read about forgiving. An almost manic state took over - "gotta forgive, gotta forgive..." But there is no Evelyn Wood Speed Forgiving course. So I've decided to just "forget" the past. When I find the negitive thoughts and memories slipping in, I use my redirection techniques on myself and find a happier memory. Sometimes it takes some rooting around in my head, but they are in there buried under the negitive. I'm not sure that in the long run this is just a bandaide that will peel off but it's the best I can do for now. I'm hoping that when the time comes the bandaide will gain sticking power with what seems to occur naturally with a death - after a bit most bad attributes and memories fad away and the person in question is transformed. Good people are elevated to near sainthood. Perhaps it is a longterm coping mechanism. But really, that's all I'm asking for - in the long run. Coping and forgiveness.

Lorrie, loved what you wrote. It is so true when someone has Alz.

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