My parents were married for over 65 years and my mother has never lived alone. I know in this day and age it is hard to imagine, I mean I spent a good portion of my adulthood living alone and married late so the thought of being alone again while sad is not foreign to me. After the passing of my father my mom needed more care than we were able to provide and than she was willing to accept. This meant that her planned stay in respite at a retirement home to ensure she wasn't alone over the holidays became a permanent relocation in February. My mom did not transition well and hated the "system" of care, giving up her last sheds of independence and having to admit to needing help did not go smoothly. The loss of my dad, coupled with the sudden change led to a quick regression in emotional, physical and mental well-being. I won't get into the specifics but it was deemed necessary to once again move my mom and this time it was into a long term care (LTC) facility. Over the past few weeks since moving into LTC my mom has become increasingly agitated, anxious and her cognitive levels seem to be rapidly deteriorating. From the time my father passed she has said that it wasn't supposed to be like this, they were supposed to go together. She talks about 87 years being enough and wishing she was dead. On a good day she resigns herself to living. My mom is not suicidal but she is definitely depressed, lonely and sad. In the first months I was upbeat talking to her about all the positives - her children, her grandchildren, and tried to convince her that in time she might enjoy tea on the patio or a bus trip to the local Walmat...and I really believed what I was saying.
The other day I looked at her life through her lens. Her days are spent alone (mostly by choice), she goes to meals, lays in bed or sits in a chair and looks out a window at an empty courtyard and sleeps until the next day when the routine starts again. My father will never be their to keep her company, sit with her, argue with her, and be her constant companion. (cue for me to start crying again). When I stopped thinking about her life from my point of view, my selfishness and my desire to have her carry on, I realized that my role is not to try to change her mind and convince her life will get better because in all honesty for her it won't. My role is to listen, to be there for her when she needs me and to make sure that when her time comes that it is as comfortable and peaceful as possible - if that's within our control. I know she is being well cared for and is in a safe and caring environment which is all I can ask.
If there is any learning to be had from this experience, it is that we cannot will others to do what we want them to do even if we think it's best. Sometimes we need to step away and look at it through another lens so we can be the person we need to be.
|In happier times with Dad and Lil L|