luvsbirds Asked July 2012

I miss my mom the way she used to be. Does anyone have ways to cope with this feeling of loss even though she is still here?

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My mom has always been my best friend and cheerleader, but at 84 she has been declining in mental and physical health the past year. I miss being able to talk to her about my life and hers and just the normal life events we all have. She doesn't really carry on a conversation anymore, just answers questions if you ask her. It's really upsetting and sad for me. My brother lives with her and I also have 3 other sisters. Maybe I need to talk to them about how I feel and see if they feel the same way. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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luvsbirds Jul 2012
Thank you all so much for your answers and suggestions. It is very helpful to know that what I'm feeling has a name. My mom is still such a sweet and loving woman and now it's my turn to take care of her the way she took care of all of us. I will get the book and read it also, maybe share it with my sibs, too. I'm glad I found this website. Thank you again!
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Sweetie, my heart goes out to you. My grandmother had Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and I moved her in with us. We had her for around 8 years and my mom was there every day to help with her. It was heartbreaking to have the circular conversations with her that let me know that she wasn't altogether there anymore. At the end she could not talk at all. It hurts.This is what I did- I chatted to her as if nothing had changed. I looked at her, hugged and kissed her, sat and held her hand, and just talked to her as I always did. No, we couldn't have normal conversations but on the other hand, I could still share with her whether she responded or not. She hears you even when she does not reply. Just keep talking to her and being there for her. She loves you just as much as ever.
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NancyH Jul 2012
luvbirds, If any of your siblings were as close to their mom as you were, then they're probably grieving too. I believe you can grieve before a person finally dies. I've had friends that though they were in a terrible marriage, grieved nonetheless. They grieved over what could've been and what they never had. They grieve over the loss of a dream. What you're feeling is normal, in my opinion.
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jeannegibbs Jul 2012
Therapist and researcher Pauline Boss, PhD, came up with a term for what you arre experiencing years ago. She calls it Ambiguous Loss. She first came up with it regarding loved ones of soldiers missing in action. She has expanded the concept to apply to loved ones of persons with dementia. We suffer huge loss but without a funeral or memorial service to give it official status. Our loved ones are both there and not there. We become both a daughter and a parent to our own mother. We feel like widows while our husbands are still alive.

You used to value having conversations with your mother. You have lost that. It is true and genuine loss, but it is not "official." Your mom is not dead. No one is sending flowers or bringing hotdishes or telling you how sorry they are. You are essentially alone with your loss. There will be other losses ahead. By the time your mother dies, you may already have done most of your mourning and you may feel mostly relieve.

Dr. Boss, who has taught at Hunter School of Social Work, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Minnesota has written a compassionate and helpful book called "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia." It doesn't cover any of the practical aspects, like how to interview paid caregivers or where to buy incontinence supplies. It is focussed on the emotional and psychological part of the journey. I found it extremely helpful. She gets it!

Perhaps you and your sibs might all benefit form reading this book and talking about it and your feelings. Or just read it yourself. It is comforting to see how universal our feelings are, and helpful to see examples of how other people cope.

luvsbirds, please accept my condolences on the loss of conversations with your dear mother.
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