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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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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A Letter To The Grandpas Who Left Far Too Soon

The thoughts of a girl who lost both of her grandpas too early.
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Dear Grandpa,

As I get older, my memories are starting to fade. I try to cling to every last bit of memory that I have of you. There are certain memories that have stuck well in my brain, and I probably will never forget them, at least I hope I don't. I remember your smile and your laugh. I can still remember how your voice sounded. I never want to forget that. I catch myself closing my eyes to try to remember it, playing your voice over and over in my head so that I can ingrain it in my memory.

I always thought you were invincible, incapable of leaving me. You were so young, and it caught us all by surprise. You were supposed to grow old, die of old age. You were not supposed to be taken away so soon. You were supposed to see me graduate high school and college, get married to the love my life, be there when my kids are born, and never ever leave.

My heart was broken when I heard the news. I don't think I had experienced a pain to that level in my entire life. At first, I was in denial, numb to the thought that you were gone. It wasn't until Thanksgiving, then Christmas, that I realized you weren't coming back. Holidays are not the same anymore. In fact, I almost dread them. They don't have that happy cheer in the air like they did when you were alive. There is a sadness that hangs in the air because we are all thinking silently how we wished you were there. I hope when I am older and have kids that some of that holiday spirit comes back.

You know what broke my heart the most though? It was seeing your child, my parent, cry uncontrollably. I watched them lose their dad, and I saw the pain that it caused. It scared me, Grandpa, because I don't ever want to lose them like how they lost you. I can't imagine a day without my mom or dad. I still see the pain that it causes and how it doesn't go away. There are good days and there are bad days. I always get upset when I see how close people are to their grandparents and that they get to see them all the time. I hope they realize how lucky they are and that they never take it for granted. I wish I could have seen you more so that I could have more memories to remember you by.

I know though that you are watching over me. That is where I find comfort in the loss. I know that one day I will get to see you again, and I can't wait for it. I hope I have made you proud. I hope that all that I have accomplished and will accomplish makes you smile from ear to ear. I hope that the person I marry is someone you would approve of. And I hope that my kids get more time with their grandpa than I did because the amount I got wasn't fair.

I want to say thank you for raising your child to be the best parent ever because they will one day be the best grandparent ever. Just like you.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn McKinney

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9 Reasons Your Grandparents Are The Best Gifts You'll Ever Receive

They love us unconditionally and are always there to lend a helping hand.

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Grandparents are special. They are the leaders and foundations of our families. They love us unconditionally and are always there to lend a helping hand. The spoil us way too often! My grandparents mean the world to me. They are some of the best people in my life and have always set a good example for me. Cherish them while you can because they won't always be around! Here are nine reasons your grandparents are the best gifts you'll ever receive!

1. They give the best advice.

2. They have a lot of life experience and are willing to share it with you.

3. Their smile makes your heart warm.

4. They are so intelligent.

5. They have the best stories to share.

6. They are a great example of love.

7. Their hugs are like no other.

8. They spoil their grandchildren.

9. They love you unconditionally.

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