Conversations on letting go. Yes, it’s time for those difficult conversations. But first, I’ve been away and I apologize for that. My mother has been diagnosed with a form of dementia and that is a huge transition for her and for me. If you are only interested in dreams and dreaming, then you will find tons of posts on that topic that will find helpful and interesting, but if I’m going to be honest in my blogging, I have to admit my head is in a different space right now….though this post does touch on my dreams. I hope you will hang in there with me to the end…….
If you read my September 20, 2015 post on death entitled “In Which Patti Learns Her Dream Job, you will know that I am dipping my toes in the waters of grief and bereavement professionally. Not a moment too soon. My mother isn’t actively dying yet (let’s face it, we are all one step closer to death every day), but I feel like I’m watching her die in slow motion. She doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia that many are unfortunately familiar with, but she likely has vascular dementia, or “vascular cognitive impairment [VCI]”. I say likely because the psychiatrist that diagnosed her didn’t bother to go into those details and is more interested in the cocktail of drugs that will hold down her paranoid delusions and keep her behaviour stable. She still reads, remembers details and knows who we are but her lucidity is interrupted by agitation, delusions and difficulty finding the right words or confusion that the doctors say will increase over time. The mother I know is disappearing. And this is sad beyond words.
Not that my mother is perfect but she’s the only mother I have in this life and I do love her, difficult personality and all. So I find I’m grieving the loss of who she was as well as the loss of the perfect mother I wanted. Have you been there? If you are reading this (I still wonder who reads these blog posts or if they are wandering in cyberspace, only to be read by some aliens, 2000 light years in my future.) feel free to share your experiences with losing a parent to dementia in the comments below.
As all this was unfolding over the summer- though for a few years, really- I dreamt that,
I am teaching or leading a group and many of the Dream Association members are there. My mother calls on the phone and without pausing to say “hello” she launches into a long story about her latest problem. I finally succeed in interrupting her and tell her that, “I can’t talk now. I have a group.” She doesn’t stop talking and I ask, “What happened to my real mother?” I mention that in the past, my mother would have said, “Ok, call me when you’re done and then hang up.” EOD [End of Dream]
And another dream fragment,
I dream that mom is able to walk [which she cannot do in waking life] but is a very small version of herself, maybe 4′ tall. [EOD]
There have been other dreams which I believe are helping me process the changes. Even when my mother doesn’t appear in my dreams, the issues do. In my dreams I am making decisions, choosing between this or that. I have my typical anxiety dreams, where I’m not ready for whatever the dream action presents. In another dream, I am attacked by a doctor’s son. I fight tooth and nail but no one comes to my aid. I think that about says it all.
In our death-phobic society, no one really wants to talk about death, but even more shocking is that no one wants to talk about grief and letting go. What I’m experiencing is “anticipatory grief” and very few people want to talk about that except for professionals in that field! “At least your mom is still with you.” “At least she still knows who you are.” There are often a lot of unhelpful platitudes offered family members going through this. Short of support groups, who are doing great work by the way, I would love to start an on-going conversation in the general population about grief, loss and letting go. After all, we ALL will experience loss. And loss can be about things other than death. The loss of a job, loss of a relationship or friendship, the loss of health, and even the loss of hopes and dreams are all losses! Admittedly there are a few organizations who are helping people talk about loss, but let’s move the conversations on letting go and loss out into those crazy “interwebs”…where you found this post!