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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Valentines Day: The Side Not Talked About

Valentines Day  –

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The Darker Side

Most people think of love, happiness and joy on Valentines Day. The day is wrapped around those currently in our life as we celebrate our relationships.  Tokens of love like flowers, chocolate and jewelry allowing those feeling to linger, but for many others Valentines Day can be extremely painful.

The loss of a loved one in our life can trigger thoughts of longing for what once was.  Grief can take hold as tears roll down ones face and and the heart longs for the precious connection it once had. The longing of physical touch; a kiss, a hug or just holding hands is no longer possible.

For some, the pain of loss lingers way past the day marked on the calendar as Valentines Day.  For some, each and every holiday triggers the loss of the physical presence of the one they loved.

Earlier this week, I was in Indiana and Illinois at three Clarendale properties doing screenings of “His Neighbor Phil.” At the last screening, a woman in the audience can up and gave me a beautiful poem about love and loss. I wanted to share it with all of you.

The Poem is Titled

“Grief is the Price of Love”

The Author is Unknown

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May this poem give those grieving some peace of mind and heart knowing the greatest gift one can receive in a life time, comes with two price tags…. grief and gratitude.

May we all be lucky enough to love so deeply and completely to feel both “grief for a great love” knowing it’s “sister gratitude” will help fill the holes in our heart and help us find peace in our life once again.

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Whats Does Father’s Day Feel and Look Like From Heaven?

What Does Father’s Day

Feel and Look Like

From Heaven?

By Lori La Bey, Founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

Dear Dad,

You have been gone now for 15 years and my heart still sinks at the thought of the loss of you.  This Father’s Day was even harder as I was up at the lake, preparing your beautiful home for sale. As packed and organized things this weekend I thought… What Does Father’s Day Feel and Look Like From Heaven?

Do you feel my loss?

Do you feel how much I love you?

Do you know how much you meant to me and still do?

Do you realize all you taught me?

Do you see the tears run down my face?

Do hear me sniffling as I talk to you wanting so badly your advice or a comforting hug?

Do you watch me struggle?

Do you see me succeed?

Do you smile when I am joyful?

Do you miss me as much as I miss you?

Do I make you proud?

Does your soul ache to be together at times, like mine does?

Do you experience emotions like we have here on earth?

Are you peaceful and content where you are?

Is heaven really as wonderful as they say?

Do watch down on me or have your flown away?

I hope you know what a wonderful Dad you were to me.  So Dad, what does Father’s Day look like and feel like from heaven?

Your loving daughter,

Lori

 

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Life, Changes, and Family

Life, Changes, and Family

By: Michelle Remold

We all know life is one big learning experience. As I was preparing to write this post, I sat down and re-read the papers I wrote in college for my “Perspectives on Death and Dying” class. While sifting through papers I came across the paper I wrote after reading The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. In this paper we had to pick a quote from the book that stood out to us and state why. The quote I chose was from page 18 and it was: “Life is like going to school. You are given many lessons. The more you learn, the harder the lessons get.” This quote spoke volumes to me last week when I read it, the same way it did back when I read it for the first time.

As kids we are sometimes blissfully unaware of the things that are happening around us. However, as we grow up we start to learn lessons that shape who we will become and everyone experiences something different. My first “lesson” I learned was Alzheimer’s. Being young when my grandpa was diagnosed, I didn’t understand the disease. I just knew that I wanted to connect with my grandpa and I would eventually, as I got older, educate myself as much as I could on the disease.

The “lesson” that followed Alzheimer’s was change, which can be a hard lesson to learn. Everything changes, it doesn’t stay the same. Alzheimer’s has a way of progressing in ways you never imagined. Growing up, I knew Alzheimer’s was changing my grandpa, but everything else appeared to remain static. Suddenly you realize that things aren’t actually static and you wonder how you missed all the changes that were happening. People moving, getting married, hitting life milestones, and then you realize that you are not the only one getting older, everyone else is too which leads to the ultimate change in life, the death of a loved one. Death….it is the hardest lesson I have learned to date. I still remember the first death that truly had an impact on me like it was yesterday. It changed me, it changed my life, and it taught me a lesson I needed to learn. My grandpa’s death was the second close death I experienced. Through this I learned that while Alzheimer’s had robbed me of a grandfather growing up, it taught me so much more. Most of all it taught me love, compassion, and understanding in a capacity that I believe was greater than anything else I could have faced growing up.

Now I will touch on the third part of the title, family. I have written before about how important my family is to me. My immediate family is very small, but I have a very large extended family. My extended family is a family I am beyond grateful to have. A lesson that many people learn at some point is the importance of family and for me it has always been important. Growing up I was one of the few kids in my class who had a great-grandma and many great-aunts and uncles, I felt lucky because I had these people in my life. Fast-forward a few years and my dad’s mom now has dementia. Dementia has impacted my life once again. At some point last year it hit me that once my grandma passed away; my great-aunt will be her only living sibling. I realized that I needed to make more of an effort to visit her and her family; to make my own memories with them. I have now been to Iowa to visit them six times in the last ten months. It is time that I have come to cherish and made me realize I needed and still need to spend with them.

Truthfully, I started writing this post over a week ago and it really made me think, especially after one of my cousins passed away. This family was the same family who rallied around us when my grandma passed away in January and I watched it happen again this past week. While saying good-bye to someone you love is tough and heart wrenching, it also made my heart smile seeing the amount of love they all have for each other. Another example to me of why family is important.

Alzheimer’s brought a change into my life that I never would have expected, not only once, but twice. It helped me become the person I am today in ways that I can’t begin to describe. Change is inevitable; it might not always be wanted, but we often learn from it. As I wrote at the end of my paper, “We can take away from each experience what we are supposed to or we can decide to not accept it and miss out on what might be one of the biggest lessons we learn.” I definitely want to take away from each experience as much as I can.

So I want to thank Alzheimer’s for teaching me some of life’s toughest lessons on a larger scale; thank my family for being there through every change life has thrown my way and for being my support system as I chase my dream of helping those impacted by Alzheimer’s; and finally I want to thank anyone else who has been in my life and who has helped shape who I am today. As Flavia Weedn said, “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.” Whether it has been people or a disease like Alzheimer’s, everyone and everything has some impact on our lives and for those impacts on my life, I am truly thankful.

???????????????????????????????Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Aging from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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The Importance of Family

The Importance of Family

By: Michelle Remold

I have been mulling this post over in my mind for about a month and I believe it has finally come together. It actually kept ringing through my head, so I finally decided to sit down and write it. My grandmother, who had dementia, passed away in January and that is when this blog post started piecing itself together.

At some point last year I made a promise to myself that I was going to spend more time with my family and relatives. I don’t mean just going to family functions, but really being present in the moment and making an effort to be with them, even if that meant detaching from my phone, emails, and social media. This promise to myself especially applied to my relatives in Iowa.

Last fall I made my first five hour trip to Iowa. I wanted to spend time with my family and truly enjoy it. I don’t know about you, but at that point I couldn’t remember the last time I went an extended period without my phone or social media. During that trip I logged out of my email accounts, didn’t check Facebook, and didn’t text or call anyone while there. It was wonderful! It was the most relaxed I had been in a long time. I quickly decided that I would be making another trip down in the spring. That trip happened this past weekend
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It once again was a wonderful trip and I detached myself from my phone once again and was able to enjoy the visit. The trip was filled with reminiscing and laughter, but this trip had a slightly different tone as well. As I said, my grandma passed away in January and it is her sister (my great-aunt) and her family that I have been visiting in Iowa. It really hit me when my grandma passed away, that it was even more important for me to make the effort to visit Iowa more, as this is my grandma’s only living sibling. Coincidently enough, I had this trip planned for what happened to be shortly after my grandma’s passing. It was great to spend the weekend with family, to look at old pictures, and to share stories of my grandma when she was younger; after all, stories are a way to keep memories alive.

When I think back, I believe I promised myself that I would make an effort to spend more time with family after hearing the song, “Was That my Life?” by Jo Dee Messina. The chorus of the goes like this, “We just get one ride around the sun, in this dream of time. It goes so fast that one day we look back, and we ask: was that my life?” When I heard this song I immediately asked myself, what I would want to remember one day when I looked back at my life. Family has always been a big part of my life and I knew that one day I would want to remember the time spent with them. My family has always been my biggest support system and the people I could bounce ideas off of. I have written previously about my grandfather being the driving force behind why I chose a career in gerontology and why I have a passion for Alzheimer’s. Family truly does have a large impact on my life.

What I have learned is that family is important. You may not always like each other or get along, but when all the chips are down, family is there for you. I learned the importance of family when my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was seven and this point happened to be reiterated to me after my grandma passed away.

Alzheimer’s and dementia have had a way of teaching me lessons during my life and for those lessons, I am thankful. After all, if I just get one ride around the sun, I want to make the most of it, create as many memories as possible, and most importantly, spend it with some of the people I love the most.

???????????????????????????????Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Aging from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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Loss Repeated

Loss Repeated

mario_and_danielle_grad_l=pic_flash_of_lightThis past Friday we lost one of our precious family pets.  Mr. Mario in retrospect was the head of our household.  Although not the bread winner as the IRS would define head of household, he filled our souls and will be greatly missed.

mario_on_the_bedUnlike the relationship I had with my mother who died in February after a 30 year battle with dementia, Mario had not been feeling well on and off for the past three weeks, yet he always seemed to bounce back, prance around and get into mischief. He was always game.. even for the crazy outfits at Halloween and X-Mas!

mario xmas outfitAlthough both losses have been and will continue to be a struggle, it is amazing at the differences and yet similarities.  The love, joy and comfort each provided in their own was powerful.  Due to the fact that my Mother lived in a nursing home for may years, her energy and presence was not embedded in each and every routine we had as a family.

Mario would:

Waking me up two or three times a night to go outside to go potty… I can now sleep through the night.

Sleep with me starting out laying on top of me, then going under the covers until he was too hot and the routine repeated itself throughout the night… I can now sprawl out in my own bed not worrying about bothering Mario or rolling over on him.

Remind me if I forgot to give him his pills as I was rushing out the door… No longer do I have to worry I might forget his medicine.

Grab the toilet paper and run through the livingroom and up the stairs in delight when someone would forget to shut the bathroom door…  Now, bathroom doors can now be left open.

Put his tiny paws on the counter as he would stretch, trying hard to pretend he was not begging when food was being prepared… No longer do I have to gently tap them and tell him to get down.

Anxiously await by my feet as I can clean my make up off, hoping I would drop a facial wipe or Q tip as he had a fetish for paper… No longer do I have to worry I might step on him underway or drop something he should not get.

Bark fearlessly at anything outside and would protect us from anyone trying to enter our home…Now there is silence.

Greet each of us at the door when we came home or get nervous when he saw suitcase getting packed, wondering if he would be going with or not…  No more will I since the unconditional love Mr. Mario gave freely wanting to be close to us always.

The list is long of all the things that have change overnight.

Here is just a partial list of loving nic names we had for Mario, now to only be heard when reminiscing.

Littles, Stinky, Mitter Mitter, Baby Boy, Little one…

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He is not there to rub his neck against our feet or talk in his whiny bark when he wanted to play.  He no longer does he sit on our laps and cuddle as us as we work or relax, or nuzzle us when he wanted to be tucked under his blankets.  No longer does he lay across from us and just watch us or comfort us when we are down or celebrate with us when we are joyful.

 

mario up closeMario will not be here to greet my daughters first child, but I know he will be watching over her and protecting her with my parents from their glorious seats in heaven.mario standing chunkyAlthough the routines Mr. Mario affected and how he touched people he met, were different from my own Mother, they will both be missed equally for the rest of my life.  Each triggering tugs of pain over moments of joy now in the past, unable to have a future to create more.  Each has taught the true gift of unconditional love and its importance in this world.  Each has taught me the true meaning of compassion, the gift of just being present and valuing what you have in your life today, as it may be lost tomorrow.  Each has taught me the critical importance of treating all things well and lovingly.

Although this is a journey none of us willing wants to take, it is natural part of life and a road which can not be avoided.  In the days ahead I know I will have a hard time framing my loss in this fashion, but over time I pray to get better at it.  Right now my mind accepts this philosophy, but my heart and soul are still grieving wishing life had given us a bit more time together.

May each of you be strong enough to go

to unexpected heights to explore love.

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May you each be blessed to feel the pain of loss

as it is a true measure of the love you had. 

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Learning To Say Good Bye

Learning To Say Good Bye

There are so many levels and forms of “Good Bye.”  Most of us don’t realize the full extent of the process until it’s our turn to walk the path.  It may be a child leaving for kindergarten or college, a divorce, a decline in health or the ultimate… a death.  Even though I have ventured down each of these paths before, every time it is new and fresh with lessons to be learned.memom

Since my Mothers passing in February, I have gone through the typical ups an downs of my grief and loss.  Missing her is something that I really can’t even put into words.  i will be doing fine and then the next thing I know something triggers a strong memory.  It could be a smell, a picture, a phrase someone says or even a faint voice I hear on occasion and I would swear she is right next to me.  Her presence still feels so close.

In the past few weeks a new decision was put before my family.

What to do with my parents beautiful lake home.

lake 1The decision was far from easy.  Although my brothers and I now own it together, our lifestyles are very different.  Not everyone lives in the same state and so the logistics for using the cabin became uneven.  Each with our own busy life and trying to maintain our own homes, adding a another into the equation complicated things to say the least. Seeing eye to eye on fiscal responsibilities and life philosophies can be difficult in a family. The past couple of weeks have been painful for us all, but the decision to sell seemed to be the only real option.

Going through and staging the home for sale I cleaned, and packed and tossed and cried.  I prayed for clarity and peace in my heart as my soul aches over the decision.  When I would  sit to rest, my eyes would scan over all the belongings…

The old ugly glass lamps which my mother loved have now become so precious to me.  My fathers recliner that comforts me as I try to relax.  Moms loon collection and glassware which is more than any one person could ever use… The simple scents of old perfume, the feel of dads tools in my hand.  It’s amazing how we look at things differently once someone is no longer physically in our lives.

The end of a era so wonderful and filled with joy.  The emotions  are embedded in my body.  When I cry, not only do tears come, but at times my stomach twists, turns and aches in pain over the loss of them.  Yet when I laugh and remember the times of joy.  My emotions are just as strong; making me smile, laugh boldly and even tears of love and hope and joy will stream down my face.

It is all up to God and the universe to lay out the future and what is to be.  All we can do is make the best decisions with the information we have at the time, and let go. And then let go again and again.

The worrying does us no good but to make us spin in doubt.  We all must move forward as difficult as it is and live our lives – fulfill our missions and walk our own paths.

mom and dad weddingI am so grateful to have had such wonderful parents who filled my heart with love and compassion.  Both excellent teachers and leaders in their own way.  May they understand how difficult it is for us to let go of the cabin.  May they appreciate how we all feel their home deserves a wonderful family who will care for it the way they did. A family who will have the time, money and energy to maintain the home in a loving fashion.  A family who will love it and share it with their friends and family, creating beautiful moments of joy, that will one day be truly appreciated at a soul level.

If the cabin is meant to sell it will…

if not, well I guess we still have lessons to learn.

May you each process your own loss in all the various forms it comes in.  May you find peace within your journey and blessings in the lessons you have learned.  May you find the ability to share openly your emotions with others, so you can fully release the pain you feel.

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Feeling Lost Without My Mother

Feeling Lost

By Lori La Bey – copyright 2014

Lori La Bey of Alzheimer's Speaks & Senior Lifestyle Trends

Lori La Bey founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

Through my mother’s thirty year journey with dementia she continued to guide and teach me; love me in ways I did not know where possible, especially in times of illness.  It’s now been 72 days since mom slipped into the heavens and joined my father. Although I can rationalize her journey on earth is over and she is now in a much better place, free of pain, fully mobile and mind intact; I am struggling.

Today I Will Visit Her Grave Site With My Beautiful Daughter Danielle,

Who Loved Her Grandma So Very Much.

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Going There Gives Me A Sense Of Peace.

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The Cemetery, A Place Where I Can Honor Her,

Leave Roses And Balloons In Honor Of Our Relationship And

The Love We Had For One Another.

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Throughout My Life, My Mother Has Been My Logical And Loving Conscious.

Mom Was My Rock.

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Mom is the one I could always depend on. She was not only my mother, but my best friend.  As my friend Lisa Hirsch titled her book, “My Mother My Hero”  pretty much sums it up!

Through tough times she was my guide and support.

On special occasions we celebrated together.

Mom Taught Me:

To look for the tiniest of things to be grateful for.

To hold a hand out to those in need.

To love deeply.

To consciously make a difference in my life and others.

To work hard and be responsible.

To understand my impact on others; realizing, appreciating and honoring the world is much larger than myself and that we are all interconnected.

To understand that to be a Mother one does not have to have their own child; but rather to be willing to adopt a child in mind, body, heart and soul.

To make a connection and difference in someone’s life, is to be a Mother.

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Mom Showed Me How By The Way She Lived Her Own Life.

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Leading by example showing me a variety of ways to be a compassionate person.

How to listen to others, not just hear their words.

To look for nonverbal signs of what others truly want or need, when their words were lost or pride held them back.

To look past the everyday judgments and see the whole person standing before me.

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Through Illness Mom Taught Me:

To let go of control. To realize it is a mirage, a trap of guilt and pleasure.

To embrace the simplicity of life.

To smile and spread grace.

To love more deeply than I ever knew was possible.

To laugh hard and authentically to embed the moment into my soul.

To look for and create joy in all moments of life, no matter how difficult they are.

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To talk openly and honestly with others acknowledging all emotions without embarrassment.

To understand we are all in this life together and that shame, guilt and denial shut us down. Realizing the only way to get past those crunching emotions is to be open, honest and proud you’ve recognized them and what has triggered them; allowing you to move through them. Past them. Over them.

To not only say, “I’m sorry” when wrong, but to change my behavior to avoid it from happening again.

To feel my fear, think of alternatives to remove it and to be brave enough to take action to reclaim the life I envision.

To follow my instincts even when they seem goofy or senseless.

To trust in a higher power than myself, knowing I’m never alone.

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To honor everyone’s beliefs.

To realize prestige, money and objects are just things.  They will not make you a better person; until you realize they can be powerful tools to expand your work for the greater good.

She taught me the importance of being person centered and what it truly means – which is how and why I created “Your Memory Chip.”  –  Are they Safe?, Are they Happy? Are The Painfree?

Through All These Lessons And More,

I Find I Still Want Her Back In This Physical World Where I Live.

Some days my heart aches so bad I think it will explode; or maybe, just maybe it will stop beating all together.  I logically believe and know in my heart mom is in a much better place. In heaven with my dad probably dancing and laughing with many friends and family who have also passed.

But Today, My Mind Wonders…

How Long Will The Pain Of Her Loss Last?

My heart longs for the warmth of her being.

My body reaches out to touch and embrace her, wanting to feel the calmness she always gave me.

My soul wants to be in her physical presence.  The presence that grounds me and allows me to feel strong and confident; even when weak.

My nostrils want to take in one last breath of her essence.

My mind wants to create more moments of joy with her.

Yes Today I Will Go To The Cemetery,

Where I Know She Is Not.

Mom’s soul is not limited to the small patch of grass next to her headstone.

Mom is in the air I breathe.

She is in the sunlight that warms me and ignites my growth.

She is the rain that falls, filled with nutrients and washing away the toxins.

She is the snow that chills me and brings a brilliant beauty by white washing this canvas called earth.

She is the sunset that screams at me to be amazed by our God and the beauty which surrounds me.

She is the moon that calls me to reflect, regenerate and give gratitude for the life I am blessed to live.

Mom, on this Mother’s day I honor you,

and all Mothers who have warmed a child’s heart, taught us soul lessons, loved us unconditionally as we have taken missteps, stumbled and fallen.

To all women who have been then there to pick us up and wipe us off.

Who have kissed a booboo.

Given a hug when we have felt unworthy.

Who sat silently in our presence when no words were needed to make us feel safe and loved.

To your hand, when you reached out to let us know we are not alone.

To your words of encouragement when we were down.

To you thoughtful and thoughtless celebration when we finally got it right!

Each Mother is special.

An “Earth Angel” Guiding Us In This Physical World.

Thank you to all Mother’s, for who you are and what you do for the world at large.

Thank you Mom for all you taught me.

All you gave me.

All you continue to give me from the other side.

Your continued connection through dreams and through our souls has been a beautiful gift to me.

May Your Mother’s Day Be blessed. 

May You Hear The Love My Heart Sings For You.

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Tomorrow Look For The Short Post, A Gift Mom Wants Me To Share With All Of You.

For More Information And Resources On Dementia And Caregiving

Go To Our Website Below.

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