My father has vascular dementia and has changed greatly. How do I stop mourning the man he used to be? - AgingCare.com

My father has vascular dementia and has changed greatly. How do I stop mourning the man he used to be?

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I am mourning the loss of my husband who is still alive with middle stage vascular dementia. I really miss him and resent the intrusion of the new husband who totters around and can't hear or process what I am saying.

There is a way to stop mourning? No. There is not. We have to mourn until we stop mourning. It takes its time.

But I can say, here only, that I am sick and tired of it. I want it over. It is so long, and slow, and lingering. The final end will be very sad but not sadder than this. And this is so tiring and confining.

I cannot help but ask sometimes: how much longer? And then I know that is the wrong question. There can be no question. I am not in charge of the universe, life or death.

The attitude that sustains is: Just for today everything is fine. Just for today. Stay in the day. Then I am o.k.
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Reply to Salisbury
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When someone dies suddenly you begin the mourning process at death, often with a profound sense of shock at the brutal amputation of someone you love from your life. When someone has a terminal illness you begin the mourning process before the physical death. As you witness each physical and mental decline, there's a cut pruning them from your life. At first each small cut is profoundly painful. But you begin healing even while the person lives, scar tissue begins to form and sometimes the next cut doesn't seem to hurt as much. But sometimes the next cut reopens every wound and is overwhelming as you mourn all those cuts together.

At some point in my father's dementia journey, I stopped seeing his dementia behavior as my dad. That's not my daddy, that's the dementia. My dad is gone and I refuse to let the shell that remains color my feelings for the man I loved. On that day I think I truly started mourning his "death". When my sister died from cancer, the intense mourning of her passage was very brief, maybe because I had been in mourning for nearly 4 years as she battled the cancer. I would compare where I am now with my father to about 2 years since a sudden death. I expect the pain of his physical death will be like my sister's - intense but brief.

I guess I'm saying that you will continue to mourn the man your father used to be in the same stages of grief as though he had died. But there will also be healing from that grief and as in all grief, time will eventually dim the pain. I find great comfort in my faith.

Here's a link to the description of grief as waves that resonates most with me. https://www.good.is/articles/best-comment-ever
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Reply to TNtechie
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I am so sorry to hear about your father. It's always hard when someone we love and who loves us in return changes into someone who is not capable of loving us like they used to. You are a very wise person to realize that you are mourning the man that your father used to be.

We all mourn whenever we lose something important to us, whether that is a person, a pet, a job, an object, a positive feeling we have/had towards someone. It is a coping mechanism that God gave us. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4 doesn't apply only to when someone dies. Jesus lamented (mourned) over what was happening to Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39 and Luke 13:31-35.

As I said before, you are a very wise person to realize that you are mourning the man that your father used to be. Let God comfort you as you mourn the changes that are occurring in your father.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles." 2 Corinthians 1:3
"I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you." Isaiah 41:10
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Reply to DeeAnna
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Salisbury, I’m right there with you. My dad has vascular dementia and his decline this year has really changed him like you I want it over both for him and for me.
I’ve also mourned the good times we had and that he’s no longer able to come visit at my home, that he’s wheelchair bound and that his personality has become very negative and at times downright mean. This is so unfair to him. So yes, it is a mourning and I think worse than mourning a death because it is dragged out. My mom died of a brain tumor 4 months after diagnosis and I think that was a blessing compared to this. To me dementia is much worse than cancer. It’s a loss of self bit by bit...piece by piece, day by day.
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Reply to Harpcat
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Therapist Pauline Boss calls the "ambiguous loss." The person is still present, but also is absent in a real sense. She has some suggestions for this kind of mourning in her helpful book, "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia."
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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This is a real challenge and I wish I had the answer for us both...this sort of thing IS mourning and the loss is very complex. Don't feel that you need to stop 'cold turkey' right now, grief and sadness is a process.

If you can, see if the social worker at your hospital can arrange for a therapist to talk with you; it can help to have someone not only to talk out sadness with, but who also has methods to help move past it. Especially if that therapist is familiar with Dementia.

Hang in there Barbnott and drop in here to the forum for a visit when you need to!
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Reply to OneLastStraw
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I don't think mourning ever actually ends. However, it softens as our response to it changes in our own time. Fifteen years ago, I lost my husband, not to death, but to a brain injury. Unlike most dementia his change was a quick change from the man who had been my loving husband for twenty years into the "who the heck are you?" childlike, confused person he is now. It took me ten years to get through the hardest part of the grieving process while still caring for the new him...and another five to recover the best me I can be and allow myself to have a self. Now, I care for him but I no longer see him as the man I married... I now see this man as a friend in need, whom I care for. That transition was a hard one filled with grief, anger, self-pity, false hopes etc.. but the process of going through it has made both of our lives happier on this end. I can love him as he is without expecting him to be who he was. That takes a lot of pressure off of both of us. I guess my advice would be to allow yourself to feel what you feel as long as you need to... there's no timeline on grief.
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Reply to faeriefiles
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I don't have much of an answer, but this subject is timely for me. Caring for my wife for 19 years of a very slowly progressing dementia, I have adapted to many losses. Yet the recent confusion about who I am, not knowing that we are married (57 years), thinking that I am a friend that is visiting, and sometimes not knowing my name or who I am, this has hit very hard.

I am especially thankful to TNtechie and Salisbury for their comments that spoke to me. I feel compassion for all who experience years of grief that gets renewed with each new stage of loss.
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Reply to Lewis22
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As someone who has just lost a father after a 2 1/2 year decline with Alzheimers.

First of all, don't know if you can stop mourning during the decline stage nor should you not mourn. You are losing someone precious. At the same time, I would say while you are gradually losing him and will mourn during that time, still value the time he really is here. I feel I would give anythgint to have it be a year ago where my dad was still alive, though in mental decline.
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Reply to Karsten
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Technie, your first paragraph is a lovely and poignant description of a unique method of viewing the loss of someone to both dementia and death.

I'm sorry to learn that your sister lost her battle with cancer. You've certainly had some challenges in your life.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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