I think it’s different for everyone, but there are similarities. It’s the 7 phone calls a day and the repeated conversations.
«Oh I’m just calling to see if you’re coming home from school yet»
«Mom I’m at work remember? I finished school years ago»
«Oh… Well I suppose that’s true… Well I was just wondering if you knew where your dad went, He hasn’t been back at the house for a little bit now and I’m getting worried.»
«Mom… Dad died 5 years ago.»
This being one of the select few conversations you’ll have with your family member affected by Alzheimer's for a long time. It’s also when they recognize you as someone else very vividly, but don’t remember you. It’s the slow death of it all. The anger, the sadness, and the rince and repeat of it. It’s being a caregiver for an undetermined period of time, a role that you have probably never signed up for in the first place.
It’s the unbearable-ness of the guilt that plagues you when you think of how devastating the loss will be when they pass, but the absolute relief you know you will feel when you won’t need to answer that 7th phone call anymore. It’s all a lot.
The grief that comes with Alzheimer's is quite unique, because you are grieving the person that you have lost while they are still alive, and will grieve them again when they are truly gone.
But you are also grieving the person and the life you once had. Putting everything on hold for a parent figure is no small feat, and the feelings that come with the loss of what once was are so painful yet so valid.
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind during those trying times is that this too shall pass, and that life is a constant ebb and flow. Just like the seasons, this situation and theses feelings that you struggle with now are temporary, and so focussing on finding peace in those trying times, and also releasing any guilt you may feel, I believe, will be what keeps you afloat while you navigate this sinking ship with a broken motor and one oar.
Radical self acceptance of life as you now know it, with all it’s quirks and dents, will not solve all your problems, maybe none if were being honest. But it just might make today more bearable, and tomorrow a little lighter.