about writing and life and God

Dementia Diary 4: September Songs

on September 8, 2012




The folk down at the beach this sunny September afternoon are a different lot from the summer folk. This crowd is made up of folk at either end of the happy family spectrum – young couples with tiny babies or noisy toddlers, all pre-schoolers now school has started again, and at the other end the cheerful, fit, tanned, slim men enjoying the sunshine with their long-time comfortable wives.

And me,  watching life pass by as I sit with my comfort-eating ice cream after my outing with my husband. I watch and try to fight the rising emotions – the loneliness, the sorrow of the loss of my marriage, the shattering of dreams of a happy, fulfilling retirement together, all exacerbated by seeing these happy couples.

Oh dear. Let’s admit it: I feel envy. Anger at the unfairness of it all. Bad feelings – including self-pity in spades!!!

But look closer and I can see the man valiantly struggling to get to his deck-chair – only one leg working because of a massive stroke. And another shuffling behind his wife and the couple they always go on holiday with – the tell-tale shuffle of dementia.

Not everyone is fine and dandy. Many are suffering and struggling. This is life. This is ageing. As my mother-in-law, Marjorie, said to me often, ‘If they’d told us this is what ageing is like, we wouldn’t have signed up for it!’

But this is where we are. Some days are tougher than others. But even this doesn’t have to destroy us or our quality of life. Like the tree which grows strong and deeply rooted in a windy area while the other in a sheltered place doesn’t and comes crashing down at the first hint of storms, our struggles and suffering can make us strong – and able to find good in what we’re going through. If like me, you’ve been an at-home carer for a while before your loved one moved to residential care, you know you’re much more of a person than you were before all this started. You’ve grown and strengthened – become more resourceful than you ever thought possible. Because you had to.

Seasoned. Like good timber. That’s us! And we can keep going. We know we can. And we will.

The text: ‘Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.’ Hebrews 12 verse 1b

A prayer: Loving Lord, hold us in your embrace when we feel lonely and sad. Renew our strength and resource us that we may continue valiantly to the finishing line. Amen

Self-care suggestion: There are days I  can’t face the happy couples who make my loneliness more painful. But it’s not good for me to isolate myself. I know some people tend to avoid me now, as though dementia were infectious and they don’t want their beloved husbands to catch it! But there are others who understand, folk who ask sensible questions – and even, sometimes, remember to ask how I am! When you feel down and lonely, seek out the folk you know will understand.



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