When You Lose Someone To Alzheimer's

When You Lose Someone To Alzheimer's

When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it can be a painful and confusing time.

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clareleo
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When you lose someone to Alzheimer's, you have to accept that they are gone before their physical being has left Earth. That might be the hardest part. You can still see them, hug them, look into their eyes, but they are already gone.

Alzheimer's is a thief and it's prized possession is the memories of those the disease inhabits. We first learned my grandmother was a victim when she was found driving aimlessly through the streets of my neighborhood, confused as to why my house that she had visited thousands of times before, my house that was less than a mile from hers, suddenly became invisible.

After that, memories disappeared rapidly, sucked into an abyss of unreachable thoughts. Pretty soon, she saw me but couldn't bring herself to remember my name. Then she didn't see me as me, I was a stranger. And then she didn't see me at all, there was nothing.

Loving someone with Alzheimer's requires patience. You cannot ask your loved one to remember and you cannot try to get them to understand. I was born with the desire to help everyone. Realizing that this was something that was incurable and that I could do nothing to fix was a harsh awakening.

When you're losing someone to Alzheimer's, the only thing you can do is sit beside them and let them know you're there.

This is one of the worst diseases because it is the longest goodbye. You are grieving and missing someone who is still alive. Every day you are forced to see someone, but know that they are no longer with you. Losing someone you love to Alzheimer's is a brutal battle between comforting them, and grieving for yourself.

When your loved one eventually passes, the grieving process, I found, isn't as intense as a non-Alzheimer's related death. Perhaps it is because you accepted the loss long ago, or maybe it is because you are oddly comforted by the idea that the victim no longer has to live a life they are unaware of. Whatever it is, losing someone who was already gone is a special kind of grief.

When you lose someone to Alzheimer's, you must hold tight to memories of your loved one. When their memories are gone, yours will be all you have.

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To The Grandmothers Who Made Us The Women We Are Today

Sincerely, the loving granddaughters.
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The relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is something so uniquely special and something to be treasured forever.

Your grandma loves you like you are her own daughter and adores you no matter what. She is the first person you run to when you have a problem with your parents and she never fails to grace you with the most comforting advice.

She may be guilty of spoiling you rotten but still makes sure to stress the importance of being thankful and kind.

Your grandma has most likely lived through every obstacle that you are experiencing now as a young adult and always knows just exactly what to say.

She grew up in another generation where things were probably much harder for young women than they are today.

She is a walking example of perseverance, strength, and grace who you aim to be like someday.

Your grandma teaches you the lessons she had to learn the hard way because she does not want you to make the same mistakes she did when she was growing up.

Her hugs never fail to warm your heart, her smile never fails to make you smile, and her laugh never fails to brighten your day.

She inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You only hope that one day you can be the mother and grandmother she was to you.

A piece of girl’s heart will forever belong to her grandma that no one could ever replace.

She is the matriarch of your family and is the glue that holds you all together.

Grandmothers play such an important role in helping their granddaughters to grow into strong, intelligent, kind women.

She teaches you how to love and how to forgive.

Without the unconditional love of your grandma, you would not be the woman you are today.

To all of the grandmothers out there, thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

the loving granddaughters

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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Kit Kat On A Rainy Day

My grandpa went missing one rainy afternoon, but what happened later is very heartwarming!

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It was a rainy afternoon in the middle of October. The road was covered in an almost invisible film of water, and mud seeped through the cracks of the sidewalk. The wind blew at a harsh and firm angle. The temperature was sharp and bitter. I was in 10th grade at the time and had just gotten back to school. I sat at my desk upstairs with my legs comfortably nuzzled against my chest. I admired the lavender fuzzy socks on my feet while very blatantly ignoring my homework and other responsibilities. I gently sipped warm apple cider, carefully making sure that it wouldn't burn my tongue whilst scrolling through my phone. This rainy afternoon in the middle of October was seemingly very normal.

I eventually picked up a pencil and reluctantly began my homework, but was very quickly distracted by the sounds of panicked yelling coming from downstairs. I quickly made my way to the scene so that I could figure out what was going on. My mom and grandma were in the kitchen crying and screaming. My grandma sounded agitated and afraid. My mom was barely able to make out coherent sentences as she scrambled to find my dad's contact in her phone. I shuddered and felt completely frozen when I was finally able to understand what was going on.

My 85-year-old grandpa who also has Alzheimer's was missing from our home. My stream of consciousness was abruptly interrupted as I heard the door leading to our garage slam shut. My mom was going to drive around our neighborhood to look for my grandpa, as he realistically could not have made it that far. I went back upstairs and sunk into my chair. My eyes were wide and I could hear my heart beating outside of my chest. I trembled and cried. These are the kinds of horrible and unfortunate stories that you read about or watch in the news. You never expect it to happen to a loved one. The gravity of the situation is heavy. It's a very obscure and different kind of pain, one that cannot be justified with words.

The next thirty or so minutes were a blur. I was not aware of how much time had passed, but I do remember hearing the slow creak of the garage open. I did not get up and I did not run down the stairs. Instead, I sat there. I sat firmly in my chair, numb and completely frozen. From where I was, everything was temporarily easier. The pain of sitting at my desk was less scathing than confronting whatever was waiting downstairs. And then, all of a sudden, I heard very slow and uneven steps coming up the stairs, accompanied by heavy breathing. It was my grandpa.

There he was, standing about three feet in front of me. I examined him, head-to-toe. He was soaked and there were remnants of mud on his pants and shoes. His glasses were covered in intricate droplets of water, and his light grey hair was disheveled. But that is not what stood out to me. What made me want to cry even more was the smile on his face that was beaming with love, as his eyes met mine. He steadily walked towards me, put his hand in his pocket, and I watched his fragile hands shake as he pulled out a Kit Kat bar.

"For you!" He said with a little laugh.

- - -

My mom had found my grandpa in a Walgreens right outside our neighborhood. To this day I still don't know how he got there, and I do not care to know the exact fundamentals of how he got from point A to point B. This is a man whose life and memories have been unfairly taken from him. This is a man who can barely make out a sentence in either Hindi or English. This is a man who, to this very day, cannot remember my name or who I am. However, what this disease has failed to do is strip him of his innate kindness. His mind might be impaired but his ability to love is immortal and unbreakable.

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