Judith is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual practices that nourish the soul and celebrates the journey from relationship to romance.
This week I want to share a story with you. It isn’t about any of my books or even a topic I’ve dealt with in any of my books or short stories – maybe someday but not yet.
I’ve two friends I met in 1980 who have “memory loss” or “dementia.” They have different forms of cognitive decline. (I learned there are 30 different types of dementia while talking to the primary care doctor of one of them). But back to my story.
I unconditionally accept that both of these exceedingly bright people have dementia/memory loss.
I unconditionally accept that it shows up differently in each of them – but that does not make the diagnosis less accurate.
I unconditionally accept that I will remain their friend until their death even beyond the time when they no longer really know who I am.
Now to unconditional support.
One of my friends lives in the same community I do. When his wife was dying she asked me to watch out for him. I agreed. After her death, he asked me to help him. I agreed. This past year has been fraught with all sorts of challenges as I’ve attempted and at times succeeded in supporting him.
In some ways it is easier with him being nearer. I can stop by and talk to him, see his physical reaction, talk to staff (yes, I assisted him in moving to a protected living situation so he’d be safer). He also says he has dementia and while not thrilled with the diagnosis, he has made peace with it.
|Sunset on the Oregon Coast - a place we all love|
We spoke on the phone last night and she was distressed. She’d heard there was a new drug on the market and she’d called her doctor to ask about having it prescribed for her. When she was told there was nothing to be done for her, she told me she cried and cried and cried.
Part of her story was that the receptionist or medical assistant told her in what was, to her, a harsh tone of voice. So, being who I am, I asked her “If it was true that there was nothing that could be done, how would she want that information told to her?”
I ended up asking the question two more times because she just didn’t seem to understand it.
However, when she answered it, I understood it wasn’t her memory loss (that’s the only term she can use to reference her cognitive decline) that was the problem.
She is unable/unwilling to accept that there is nothing that can be done. She believes as long as studies are being done, researchers are seeking cures, there is a chance that the progress of her disease can be halted.
Knowing this, understanding this gives me a different way to unconditionally support her. I won’t be asking her the kinds of questions that create that dissonance for her, the ones where she faces the answer she doesn’t want.
She said “Why would I want to live if I knew there was no hope and I’d become a vegetable, unable to care for myself, unable to enjoy anything?”
Of course she would not want to live under those circumstances and knowing her for 37 years I totally understand that.
|Lily helps vulnerable adults|
As her memory fails (the past 10 – 15 years have faded to almost nothing). I can listen and reminisce with her about the trips and other events we’ve shared.
As her memory fails, I can remain her friend even when she isn’t sure who I am I can still show up in her life.
These are just two examples of people I unconditionally accept as they are and unconditionally support as best I can.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section so we can have a conversation.
Your free copy of Lily: The Dragon and The Great Horned Owl is waiting for you.
Go to JudithAshleyRomance.com and sign up for my occasional newsletter “Connections.” Follow the prompts to download your own digital copy of the first book in The Sacred Women’s Circle series.
Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series at JudithAshleyRomance.com
Follow Judith on Twitter: @JudithAshley19
Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.
You can also find Judith on FB!