Reflecting back on what used to be is difficult because it brings too much sadness, but I'm finding it a hard habit to break especially with the holidays. This is the first year that my mom with ALZ and I have not gone holiday shopping, the first year we will not be at mom & dad's house to celebrate and the first year without a gift exchange. Even though mom is still here, these traditions are gone. She doesn't show signs of knowing any difference, but it is breaking my heart. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if she were gone. Mourning the loss of so much while the person is physically still present is a struggle. I walk around the mall and all I see are mothers & daughters together while I am alone. I miss her voice, I miss the look of love in her eyes, and I miss the emotional connection.
Instead, what is offered is a meal at 5:30 on Christmas day at my sister's house. I can barely tolerate her and only put up with her to keep peace in the family. She has been married to a verbally and emotionally abusive man for 25 years. She has adult children who rarely look up from their cell phones, and never take any effort to help with setting the table or cleaning dishes.
My mom's best friend died 3 months ago and she was like an Aunt to me. The warmth of family members I had as a kid is mostly gone. To move from that to having to spend time with relatives who are argumentative and distant makes me nauseus. I guess I should be happy for what I did have for so many years and focus on making new routines or volunteering. Any comments on someone going through similar? Suggestions? Thanks for reading and bless you during this holiday season.
Enjoy your day though.. try to do something that you enjoy and pamper yourself a bit.
As for shopping, Lol, sit back and watch all those that feel the need to have the latest, toy, tv, etc, only to repeat when the holiday rolls around again.
The best time for the holidays, is when they are over.
I was thankful for the end of school performances in the winter when my kids got older, I was thankful when they and my grands started preferring money to wrapped gifts. It is so much easier. I do not have the kind of mother I wanted to shop with. As the kids grew up and started their own families they developed their own ways. I am perfectly happy on my own at Christmas, with a fire in the fireplace, a few lights and candles on and a special coffee and chocolate treat and music. My dd often invites me to join them and that is fun for a few hours. One son lives too far away and the other one and his wife are very tied up with her parents. So be it. Sig other has been visiting his kids and grands as they used to have a marathon get together,- but that is kind of falling apart too as each family develops their own ways. We have made New Year's our time. Not sure how this year will pan out. I will go with the flow.
Good luck to all of you who are experiencing losses and changes. Make some thing new that is good for you.
So now we do what we can, and hope that SOMEONE will show up. Just a few decorations and telling mom, why I'm not putting up more. But holidays are really just another day. Mom will be asking why her regular shows aren't on TV. ;)
Some great suggestions here, by others! No need to have a holiday meal with rude relatives (my nieces would be on their cells texting each other and they were across the room from each other!) Savor the time and memories you have left with your mom and hubby! Happy Holidays!
This will be my third Christmas without Mom. Our family is slowly drifting apart as I kind of predicted we would, sad to say. To be perfectly honest, I don't think we really even like each other anymore. I will probably skip Christmas at my sister's this year. My Hubs doesn't enjoy his family's company either so who knows? Maybe, we'll lay in bed all day together and order in this year.
But, know that there are so many who relate to what you have said and feel exactly what you are feeling. I wish I could offer some sage advice and tell you that it gets better. For some I'm sure it just gets different.........you just get used to that hole in your heart. But, be especially kind to yourself. There is nothing wrong with that.
There really isn't any reason that you can't have YOUR holiday with your parents. It is heart breaking to see your Mother slowly pass before your eyes. This apparently doesn't affect your sister for whatever reason(s).
What about neighbors who are still around and know your parents? Why not ask if one of them would like to tag along with you to shop for Christmas and have lunch to talk about how things were?
You don't need to go all out like the past (I have the same issues about family holidays that are no longer). Make the Christmas dinner at your parent's home, Mom won't know the difference. I'm sure that your Father would like to have you there and give just that little bit of holiday for the both of them.
Gift exchange? What better gift can you exchange with anyone than to give your parent's the gift of love that you have for them? YOU are the caring family member. YOU are the one that always held the family traditions in your heart.
Your Mom does know you in her mind, she just can't express it. If there are too many people around her, it's only going to cause her more stress and make her mind more mixed up. If it's just the 3 of you, it may be exactly what will help your Mom to recognize more than you think.
Make the best of the situation by being there for both of them. You will not regret having done everything possible up to the end. What will your sister feel or have? That's where the regret will be, not you but your sister.
Enjoy the good days with your Mother even if it is only for a few minutes...just like in the movie The Notebook.
You will have done everything you could possibly do and nothing to regret.
Oh, if you are married, you still have family; they're called in-laws.
The first year assisting my dad was rough - but he lived 7.5 years after Mom passed. For his sake, and for my sisters, we gathered at holidays.
With Pop's passing 6 years ago, we stopped getting together. Did we stop loving each other? No. We just no longer felt the need to try to get together to eat. We can do that during the year.
My sisters each have children and it is more important that they start new trends with their children. I lived alone for 10 years before meeting my DH and to me, holidays are just another day. I can love my sisters 365 days of the year without having a special holiday.
Maybe you need to consider - if you don't want to go sit and eat with your sister, be true to yourself and don't go. If she loves you, she will understand.
I'm one of the people who had a terrible childhood with no parents and no good memories to speak of. I can remember being a small child and wistfully watching so many other people doing things which I imagined were so much fun. I became determined to have my own family when I grew up so that I would never have to be an outsider again. When my kids were young we had many wonderful Christmases together. They rarely included my mother.
I think the pain lies in living in the past. The past is history and we have to do all we can to stay in the present. I've been able to make a good deal of progress on this during this year by meditating. There is a website called Calm.com which has daily meditations whichever really helped me a lot. The key is to staying in the present moment, that's all we have.
So I would say do as others have suggested, do things for yourself and your mother as appropriate, try meditation and perhaps yoga, seek fellowship at your place of worship if that is appropriate, and try to stay in the present. Plan a day that will work for you and don't worry about attending events with people that you really don't like. Do what you can do and what works, this is the new reality.
Many blessings to you, I know it is so difficult.
I am having a hard time figuring out what to get Dad for the holiday. He can't do word searches anymore, can't draw anymore, can't handle a Walkman (or something more modern), and his bed cushion is ruined (and I'm having a hard time finding a waterproof one). Everything is different now.
And we have a family holiday party to attend on the one-year anniversary of his hemmorhagic stroke, which led into his post-stroke dementia. Granted, Mom and I suspected he might have dementia before this, but the stroke was catastrophic to him physically and cognitively, and to them financially. And when it comes to sh*!@y family members, well...you're not alone. I had an aunt yell at me and a sibling tell me to F-off while my dad was lying in the hospital bed, while I was five months pregnant at the time, because I didn't know to put my aunt "on the list" to be able to speak to the hospital staff, and my sister blamed me for making her feel guilty for not helping. I remember sitting in the hospital cafeteria while "I'll Be Home for Christmas" played overhead, knowing my dad would never return home. Yeah, holidays are a blast. So I'm a bit pissed off that the party was scheduled on this of all days, by of course, well-intentioned people who have no idea in the least what it's like.
I like the advice others gave you to do something nice for yourself, and that you could either attend or not attend the party. One idea I have is to harness the youngsters' tech-savviness and have them create a Power-Point or SlideShow of family photos. It could give everyone a chance to reminisce about happier memories, and you might be surprised what your mom remembers. If you don't feel like shopping in the stores, Amazon and other stores, such as Joann's, can ship picture frames, which you can use to decorate your mom's room, or scrapbooks.
I have a baby and this is her first holiday season, so it sort of forces me to create new traditions for our little family. I give myself time each day to FEEL IT, and then I start doing something productive. I need to be present for my baby, and you need to be present for yourself.
Now my paranoid, protective side speaks: I will say that if your siblings backed off, but suddenly are interested in having your mom over, it might be a good idea for you to be there. Are they the type of people to take advantage, by say, having your mom write a check to them or sign a legal document? Things like this happen.
There's no wrong answer here. You do what feels right for you. And if I've somehow confused what you've written with what someone else wrote in their reply, I offer my deepest apologies, because I am going on very little sleep these days.
I was the caregiver for my Dad, and he passed earlier this year. My Grandmother also passed this year. And my Dad’s best friend. And my Dad’s dog from lymphoma. And my dog, who was like my child. I am numb.
And with their passing, I seem to be reliving the loss of my beloved Mom and my other grandparents years ago. I miss...well, everyone.
GingerMay, you are not alone. I recognize your feelings as similar to my last Christmas. Mourning the changes in your loved one, and things in life which will never be the same again. I learned it was a type of anticipatory grief, and it can be very hard.
You are on the right track by trying to focus on new traditions, volunteering. But there will always be things that trigger your emotions like mothers/daughters shopping—that one always gets me too.
Perhaps don't let your whole holiday hinge on a Christmas dinner which sounds like it may be challenging. Extend the holiday with your Mom by doing something else with her too. Maybe thats the two of you having a special food/treat on Christmas Eve, or sitting together to watch a holiday movie. Although all memory patients are different, many can feel joy during an activity, even if they forget it 10 minutes later.
Try to help your Mom feel the holiday season, and you might discover you feel a bit of it too.
1) Be thankful you had some good years. Some of us never had a "close" or any form of relationshsip with our folks, ever. I sometimes think I was raised by wolves! But your story seems to make me think It must have been nice!
2). Skip the 5:30 obligatory dinner with a miserable lot! Why go to a sister's house that makes you ill? Attend something with your Mom, such as dinner at a restaurant. You will be happier, and make new memories. It may mean you must enforce some new boundaries with your sister. So be it. It's called tough love, because sometimes you must be firm and direct in what you do!
If your Mom is too ill to leave the Assisted living place, call ahead, and get a schedule of their activities. Go to the Assisted Living facility, and make a memory, even if it's by yourself, about yourself!
3) Attend an orchestra or ballet, such as the Nutcracker, which is always a holiday star!
4). Promise me you won't make this Christmas about the "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" of your life. This year starts a new chapter in your life. Ultimately, It's up to you, how it turns out!
5) Buy yourself something outrageous, and have it gift wrapped. You will cherish it forever.
6) Write yourself a letter detailing how you feel, and then mail it to yourself. You need to acknowledge your feelings. Once it arrives and you've read it, burn it in the fireplace, read a book, and drink the hot chocolate! You've earned it, by being a good child, sibling, and adult.
Do what you feel you are up to, but please keep busy. Volunteer to serve Holiday meals, visit family that cannot get out, if you are so inclined attend church services, go away on vacation.
Can you find a grand-daughter or friend to go enjoy shopping with? Not to replace your mom, but to establish a new memory about shopping that will be uplifting instead of painful.
Maybe establishing that new connection will help us be less sad about our loss. It wouldn't so much diminish the memories of the good times as it would reinforce the good things about our blessings that we have learned through our lives.
Thank you for asking your question. It helped me to analyze and understand some things about myself.
Have a blessed Christmas!
It's "what you've never had you don't miss," versus "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
I don't know how one person can really know which is preferable. And anyway, it's not like we get any real choice in the matter.
Of many sad moments, the one when my mother said, looking round at our card-writing efforts, "Christmas isn't fun any more" was among the sharpest. She'd always made such a production of it - and now that she isn't here at all, of course I wish I'd been more appreciative at the time.
Okay. Now that I have made myself thoroughly miserable and tearful again...
What about setting the unsatisfactory younger generation a good example of cheerfulness, helpfulness, gratitude and affection? They may take your cue and delight you. Or they may not notice; but even then you're no worse off; and at least you've done something to distract yourself from the rubs and bumps of the day; and I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
Even if your not artsy crafty, stuff like...
- handling the warm damp washcloths to take the Elmers glue off residents hands as they’ve made glitzy door wreaths
- helping them put together Snowman mini centerpieces
- cutting ribbons and running bells through for Holiday necklaces
- being an extra voice in sing-a-longs
- help serve holiday meals or do holiday treat delivery to residents rooms.
If your artsy, even better. Really the activities gal could use your help. Plus you can wear your 3D sequined reindeer headband!!
I am going through something similar on this holiday season. Both of my parents moved to memory care this summer. My Dad hasn't really been my dad for at least 5 years (because of dementia), my mom got a dementia diagnosis about 2 years ago... I have been caring for them both for about five years.
The last 5 years or so it has been just me and them (while the other siblings have backed away from me and them). Its a sad situation but we have had a couple of nice Christmases together (just me,mom and dad). This year is different.. I don't think I will be taking them out of memory care because I don't think I can handle my Dad and am not sure If my Mom will go back if I brought her back to my house.
This year, I will go to the memory care.. at least for a visit.. but it will not be the same. I sometimes get nostalgic just like you and remember when I had my Mom and Dad.. like they used to be. I remember when my siblings included us as family (as well as Mom's siblings). I miss those times so much.
I am dealing with so many thoughts of how things were and what will never happen again.. you are right it is a danger zone.. but .. yea.. I go there periodically. I also see others with their healthy parents and am envious and just wish I could have those times back.
I feel for you.. its so hard. The bar is set so high at Christmas to be so happy.. I hate that you have to go to a celebration where you don't feel warmth and love. Maybe you can leave early and have a little celebration on your own? Light some candles, listen to some beautiful christmas music, pour a glass of champagne... or whatever you have to do to pamper yourself.
My mom lost every ability with a massive stroke, then lived four years able to do nothing including talk or sit though her mind was intact. So I fully get what you’re saying about loss. I lost my mom twice, and it was awful twice. She loved Christmas and picking out just the right gift for everyone. Okay, now I’m meandering....just know someone else gets what you’re saying and wishes you find peace and new joys in the season
I honestly am not sure how not to reminisce, especially at this time of the year. I'm trying to remember the good times, even though they're probably gone forever in terms of family continuity as there are only a few of us left.
I wish I had some answers for you, but I'm still searching for them myself. Know though that you're not alone.