Is It Normal to Grieve Before Someone Dies?
Nearly everyone involved in caring for an ill or aging loved one is experiencing some degree of grief. However, we don’t usually identify the complex emotions we’re experiencing as such. When you have a parent or spouse who used to be strong and capable but begins to ask for a little assistance, it’s no big deal, right? You’re happy to help.
But deep down, there’s a knot in our hearts. We’re grieving various kinds of loss, including the loss of function that comes with advancing age or a chronic medical condition. Generally, these changes are subtle and the grief surrounding them is sneaky.
My Experience with Grieving Before Death
I remember watching my parents age in the normal fashion. I’d occasionally look at them and be startled by the realization that they were getting older, but that was all I acknowledged. I never consciously dwelled on the fact that they would continue to decline and eventually I would lose them. I didn’t want to. These things did, however, linger in the very back of my mind.
Then one day my dad underwent brain surgery to correct an old injury he sustained in World War II. It was made clear to us that without this operation, he would eventually suffer from severe confusion. Unfortunately, though, the surgery was unsuccessful. Instead of preventing this fate, he came out of the operating room with full-blown dementia. Our family was suddenly experiencing one of those tragic things that only ever happens to “other people.”
There was no time to fully contemplate the far-reaching implications of Dad’s abrupt change in health. Hard decisions had to be made…
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “For anyone having to walk the last segments of life with a loved one, read this.” …Delores
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