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Old 05-14-2016, 10:52 AM
 
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I just wanted to ask people's input. I am asking about the difference when a person dies of a prolonged illness where the person was mentally all there vs. a prolonged illness where the person "disappeared" a long time before actual death. When a person has severe dementia for a long time, it seems like the spouse would no longer have the marriage relationship of mutual support and love. Of course, this would be extremely difficult and sad. But does the care giving spouse disconnect somehow or mourn the death of the relationship before the actual death? Does this make the grief after the death easier because they have already been grieving the loss for some time?

My husband died after a prolonged illness, but he was "all there" the whole time. We kept our relationship, and grew even closer, I think. So when he died, even though we knew from the beginning that this was terminal, that was the actual point when I lost him. I learned that knowing it is going to happen gives you no help in grieving; I was very much devastated, and am still grieving.

So is it different when the relationship is lost earlier because of dementia? Does it make the grieving after the death shorter or easier to go through because you have already been "working on it" or does the burden of care giving keep you from processing the loss? What about if the person with dementia was in a facility so that the spouse didn't have so much care giving to do? Does that tend to make the ultimate loss easier because the surviving spouse was already living alone as well as having the emotional/love/support disconnect?

Any thoughts?
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Old 05-15-2016, 04:19 PM
 
Location: SW US
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TBH, I find this question rather insensitive. My grandmother died with dementia, 30 years ago. She was in a nursing home for her last few years. She did not communicate verbally, and could not care for herself. We did not write her off because she was "disconnected", or not her old self. Sometimes she interacted with us a little bit, even though not verbally. When she died, we mourned and missed her, just as we miss those relatives who died of cancer in a short period of time.
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Old 05-15-2016, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert, AZ
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Grasshopper - I think it's a fair question but I don't know the answer. My first mother-in-law had Alzheimer's for 7 years before she passed away, and in some ways I think my wife and her siblings were relieved that her suffering was over. But don't think that lessened the sense of loss of the amount of grief they felt. Since all of her children have also passed away, I can't ask their opinion.


Just like the difference between losing somebody suddenly/without warning vs losing someone with a disease that takes months or years to come to the end, the loss is the same, although it may manifest itself differently.
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Old 05-16-2016, 12:28 AM
 
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I was certainly not trying to be insensitive. In fact, my own mother died of dementia, in a nursing home, and I know how very difficult and sad that is. But I imagine there is no answer to my question anyway. I was just looking for input, as I try to make sense of all of this. But I will drop the question, as perhaps it will be offensive to some to ponder this in this venue. Sorry.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:34 AM
 
Location: Columbia SC
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I only have experience with my wife's death. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given 2-3 years to live. She lived for 5 years. The first 3 years of chemo went well and we saw little to no change and she felt fine. The 4th year she started to feel tired most of time but not sick nor in pain. The last year she was very weak and tired from the chemo but was not sick nor in pain. We stopped chemo after 4 and a half years as it was really weakening her. The last few months she was very weak, tired, and went on oxygen yet she was still not sick nor in pain. During the 5 years and especially the last year, we had plenty of time to discuss and prepare for her death. Fortunately money was not going to be an issue as it can be for many.

We had a few rough spots and I can only imagine how tough it has to be caring for one that is ill, in pain, and unable to care for their self. I often laid awake at night wondering how I could or would be able to handle my wife if she took a turn for the worse. My heart goes out to those having to do so.

She passed quietly and peacefully in her sleep with me by her side.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Glasgow Scotland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
I was certainly not trying to be insensitive. In fact, my own mother died of dementia, in a nursing home, and I know how very difficult and sad that is. But I imagine there is no answer to my question anyway. I was just looking for input, as I try to make sense of all of this. But I will drop the question, as perhaps it will be offensive to some to ponder this in this venue. Sorry.
I think your question does make a lot of sense and I can understand what you mean by this...Its like a long wait for the inevitable rather than a sudden death where people are left grief stricken and confused... yes I think it would be different...
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Old 05-19-2016, 07:10 PM
 
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Prolonged is tougher. When it got to where my mother did not know who I was, it was soul-crushing. You don't really get to say goodbye.
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Old 05-20-2016, 12:02 AM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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It has been different for me. While my father was quite ill for years, my mom, a former nurse, took excellent care of him. He only looked wasted, very ill, and on death's doorstep for the last 6 months. My mother looked really good until a couple of months before her death at 86. My mother-in-law was the champ. Seriously. Three rounds of surgery and chemo, and she was making meatballs the day after she could get out of bed.
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Old 05-20-2016, 04:10 AM
 
Location: Glasgow Scotland
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As Ive got older myself I now view death differently... and something inevitable that happens to us all, rich or poor good or bad. we all have to go.... I count my blessings when I think of babies and children who have died young, young men at war who never got to an age to learn about love and life.... and I think myself very lucky....I still think a sudden death is much more traumatic for the family and the other way is stressful, tiring, and sad for both the person dying and the family... Wish sudden death guilt is left often with the family who didnt say goodbyes or say sorry or whatever.. but better for the person.. The thought of drips, operatons, pain. medication and tubes for months to keep someone alive isnt for me... If theres no hope I wouldnt want all that , more for my family than for myslelf.. but then Im not in the postion and it might be different... as I saw relatives with incurable cancers still talking about getting well and help only days before they died... so maybe for some hope or faith is always there..
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Old 05-21-2016, 06:15 PM
 
Location: Cochise county, AZ
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My mom had dementia and in her lucid moments all she talked of was how she was hoping to die.

She had been an avid reader and once she developed dementia, she would read a page and when she went to the next, she'd already forgotten what she'd read. She was also an avid and awesome knitter but, with dementia, she forgot how to do it.

It was a blessing when she passed as she was so sad at all she'd lost. It was also a relief to all of us. Sad but knowing she was going to a better place where she would knit and read to her heart' s desire.
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