I took care of my mom for 13 years. We laughed together, took day trips together and I constantly tried to please her. 6 months before she died, my mom turned and looked at me and said "I hate to tell you this but I don't love you." That comment has haunted me since her death. I keep hearing it in my head and I've begun to feel unlovable. Did anyone else experience negative responses from someone with dementia that you were caring for that have stuck with you? How do you get past it?

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I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this particularly harsh memory at the same time you are grieving the loss of your mother. I don't think I have the words to tell you how to forget what you heard or for it to not make you feel alone and lonely. I remember hearing Harry Belafonte sing, "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" and I imagine that is what you felt like when your mom said that. I also wonder what was the state of your mothers mind when she spoke those words that were so hard for you to hear. Perhaps she realized that she didn't know who you were. Perhaps she remembered something about love but couldn't put it together with you as her brain was no longer functioning in a way that would allow her to remember. Perhaps it was a loss that she was sorry about or something she thought she should tell you. Perhaps she saw how much you were caring for her and she felt it only fair to let you know. Perhaps she heard something like that on tv and was only repeated something she had heard. Perhaps it was something someone had said to her. I know it won't make those words fade for me to write these words but your relationship was much more than those few unfortunate words and was for a time much longer than those 13 years or that last six months. It has not been long enough for the last months to shrink to their appropriate size in importance. Those few words seem to weigh more than all the rest of your relationship, but that's for now. They still loom large in your mind. They will recede. My own mother has been gone for two years this month and it is just now receding and I have yet to be able to remember better times, times before illness and death. We go into a sort of trance in our care giving. It takes a while to come out of it.
I do know that for you to dwell on those words is not healthy for you.
You may have heard this story. An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
So turn away from those words and that experience and think on more pleasing times with your mother. Its hard to stop doing something. Easier to start doing something that pushes the other thing away. "I am love" could be a mantra you could repeat when the memory comes back. Something simple that you can repeat over and over. Therapy might help you as well. Hugs
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Suzie, those with dementia often say things they do not mean or understand. I am sorry mom said this to you. Understand, though that mom's brain was broken and I am sure she did not understand what she was saying. A caregiver needs a very thick skin and often times very hurtful things are said by the loved one. I am sure she did not understand.
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It sounds like your mother and you had a good relationship -- not something I would expect if people didn't love each other. I have a feeling that gladimhere is right. She didn't realize what she was saying. Another thing is that the disease could have affected her brain so she wasn't feeling love. Alzheimer's changes people so much that they can become like different people. If you know your mother loved you when she was well, it is what matters. If you loved her is even more important. I suspect that people who can love are lovable themselves.
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Dear Suzie,

Reading your post made me tearful. I am so sorry you have been thinking of these words. I know how much it hurts. But I hope you know in your heart it was the disease talking and not your mom. You were a faithful and dutiful daughter for all your life. Your mom was so blessed to have you caring for her.

I know we want to hear the words "I love you" from our parents. After my dad had his stroke, I too tried to make him happy. But it felt like everything I tried to do was not good enough. He would constantly wave me off or tell me no. He passed last year and I'm still struggling.

It's not easy to let the past go, but others have suggested to me to focus on the whole relationship. Think of all the good moments and try to let those ones that hurt go.

Take care of yourself. Please know you did do everything possible for her. And you did right by her.
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Hi Suzie,

My dad died of Alzheimer's and at the end of his life told me "I used to love you". This stung because I knew that he loved me and that I had been the apple of his eye until the last few years. These people gradually lose their brain function as the disease progresses but that doesn't mean they never loved you.
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Oh Jez. My mom told me. Way way before dementia she wanted to abort. Also told me the second she saw me she was so happy she didn't. That was hard to deal with The wanting to be aborted. She was a fairly decent mom. God only knows what will she will say to me as dementia progresses. I'm going to try really hard to remember how good she was to me and thank God she decided to have me.
Helpful Answer (12)

Suzie, read what you wrote: "We laughed together. Took day trips together..."
THIS is what you remember.
It was the NASTY THIEF dementia who uttered that heart breaking statement.
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SuzieM - think of the happy years you spent together - obviously your mom loved you and delighted in spending time with you. Her brain was not functioning properly at the end. (it might have been in her mind to someone else she was saying this). Try to remember the good times - because that is who your mom really was.

My dad has dementia - and he says very hateful things to my wonderful step-mom (he thinks it is 30 years ago when my mom and dad were going through their divorce and he thinks my step-mom is my mother). My stepmom, on a logical level, knows this. However, it is hard not to be very hurt.

It might help to read up on dementia. I hope you can soon let this hurt go - it was not true.
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Hi, SuzieM.
You've received a lot of good advice here. It is hard to move on after things people have said and done, especially when it's your Mom and you were so close. The best you can do for yourself, and for her memory, is to remember the good times. Push the bad back and eventually you will concentrate mostly on those good memories. I had an alcoholic father and my narcissistic mother is still alive (who I care for despite all of the past and present things she says and does). I could focus on the bad memories from both, but I chose to focus on the good in them. I recently read a statement "You bring out the best in yourself by looking for the best in others." If you need help working past this, develop a strong support system to talk about it so you can move past it. It's the most productive way to honor your mother and yourself. I wish you all the best.
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My wife and I enjoyed 65 years of a happy marriage before dementia robbed her of her mind. At one stage of her dementia she said she hated me. She accused me of all sorts of evil things, even claiming that I was trying to kill her. Once she came at me with a kitchen knife. To make a long story short, she's now in an ALF. She has passed the hostile stage, and is now much better. I visit her often, and when I do she happily greets me and expresses her love for me. I believe your mom was going through a nasty stage of dementia, and unfortunately she passed before she got past the nasty stage. Please keep in mind that your mother loved you and the hurtful words were not really hers. God bless.
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