Dementia Patients and Who They Leave Behind, the Grieving Process

Mom-babyme     1946-graduate

It’s been a week since Mom passed away of her diseases and the house is feeling very empty. I’ve paid a lot of attention in my earlier posts to the struggles of both the afflicted and the caretaker. Now, I am learning about the dementia patient and who they leave behind, in this case me. It’s been a long week and I am feeling like it will also be a long journey to work through the grieving process.

If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would have had my mother with dementia living with me, I would have laughed at them. Now here I sit after having her in this house for 6 years while taking care of her needs, wondering how I will ever get used to the void she’s left behind. In her older years, she didn’t live a huge life, but she filled a very special space in this house which will be forever missed. Even with Vladimir here, along with all the commotion that surrounds him, the void is obvious, hitting me in the face the minute I walk in at the end of the day.

m0m-b0at-profile   Mom-Tonya

The above photos are of: (1) Mom holding me, (2) Mom’s graduation photo, (3) Mom on a boat on the left looking very young and at peace on the water, (4) Mom and Tonya in August 2014, one month before her death.

We have found Tonya the dog, laying at the end of where her bed had been, leaving me to believe that she is very depressed as well. I put one of my mother’s blankets and a piece of her clothing down for her to lay on until she works her way through it. I rescued Tonya about a year and a half ago and they hit it off nicely. Tonya had grown to love her and my mother loved her back. That in itself was unique since my mother wasn’t a dog person. In the past few years she had forgotten that she had OCD, so having a dog became a non-issue. She loved having company in the house and Tonya used to follow her all over the house during the day while she was still able to walk around. Tonya almost seemed to protect her…knowing her routine and would instinctively know when she was off course.

Mom was cremated yesterday and the process felt very long although is was only 6 days. I will be leaving work early tomorrow to go and pick her up. Even though I am not Russian, it’s Vladimir’s tradition to have a little private ceremony honoring the person on the 9th day, which is tomorrow. We will do that, displaying a few photos and sit to talk about the fun times that we have spent with her. According to tradition, we will do that once again on the 40th day. It is believed that she is still in the house for 40 days before she goes on to her journey.

From my experience, this first week after is filled with sadness and denial…the do you thinks and the I wishes thought pattern going around and around. Along the journey, I sense that there will be a lot of reflection and deep thinking which will bring up a lot of emotion. Let’s see how it progresses.

Hopefully my path will help someone else in their grieving process.

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