Mom is having a really bad night.
It would take too long to explain exactly what’s happening, and it would be fundamentally uninteresting to anyone not involved. So I won’t bother. The shortest possible version is that she’s mad that we (her children) haven’t made progress on doing something that, when we told her someone had suggested it, she was dead set against doing.
If that seems confusing and illogical, it’s because it is. And I know that it’s not really why she’s mad. She’s mad because she doesn’t have control over most of her life anymore. I can only imagine how crappy and frightening and unfair that feels.
I also know that it’s not really us she’s mad at. I’m doing my best not to take it personally. And not to feel responsible for fixing it. That might be the heart of the matter. When she’s mad or upset or sad, my instinct is to fix it. I think if I find the right thing to say or the best thing to do, it’ll make things better. For Mom, for me, for my sister, for everybody.
Know what? Nothing will fix this.
Nothing. There is no thing I can say, there is no gadget we can find, there is no magic bullet. There is nothing that will make my mother, in all her glorious imperfection, start acting like my mother again. She is gone. I know there will be better days and moments. I remember to appreciate them. I do. But the trajectory is down. And it feels like we’re picking up speed.
We cannot get off this hideous ride. I am sad, and scared, and weighed down, and angry. I am feeling things I can’t quite identify by name. I feel alone, even though I know am not. It is a lonely proposition, watching your only living parent drift away.
I feel like if I have to listen to her tell me one more time how she wants to die, I will scream so loud and so long that my vocal cords will explode. I thought for awhile that she was only telling me, because I was getting it several times a day, and surely that was all of it, no? No. She’s telling everyone. She’s telling people she’s never met before how very much she wants to die.
I actually get this, intellectually. She’s miserable, and frightened. She believes in heaven, and that she’s going there. So why not go now? Seems a lot better than what she’s currently doing. But hearing your mother’s death wish over and over and over is demoralizing in a way I can’t fully express. And I feel, illogically, embarrassed for her that she’s telling other people. We’re from the Midwest. You don’t just walk up and tell people about your dark, scary feelings, amirite?
I do get that irony of me saying that here, in this context. But writing helps me exorcise my demons, so here I am.
Tomorrow will be better. If nothing else, it’s Friday!
Serious Question, Though: Does anybody local know of and recommend a support group for caretakers/family of dementia patients? It’s not something I’ve done before (see comment above about Midwesterners and feelings), and I have no idea when I’d find the time. But I’m not really okay, and I know it, and I’m willing to try.