Bittersweet Holidays with Alzheimer’s Disease
Christmas brings so many memories to mind, doesn’t it? Our childhoods, when most of us would be excitedly waiting for Santa.
Our delight when we opened our presents. Big family dinners with friends and guests who didn’t have family of their own.
Fast forward to today, many of us with children of our own, many with grandchildren.
Hopefully, there is joy in our memories, but often they are tinged with a sadness of those we are missing in each new year.
Some family has moved away, too far to gather for the Christmas day celebrations. Many relatives and friends over the years have passed away.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you can be missing that person even though they are still alive. The same is true of anyone with a terminal illness.
There are so many parts that go into your feelings at special times of the year. For me, with Mom in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, I wish she were able to enjoy opening her gifts and still give us hugs to thank us for each one. I miss being in the kitchen with her, watching her bake pies, while I worked on another dish. I miss the pleasure and delight she brought to our lives, the happiness. I miss her sense of humor and that knowing laugh she had.
She is still here, and I will treasure the time I spend with her this year at Christmas, just as I treasure each day I see her. Knowing each celebration could be her last (or not), makes it all the more important.
If you have a loved one who is terminally ill, it must be similar for you. We’ve been in this last stage for about four years now, so most of the time, Mom’s Alzheimer’s is accepted and handled. It just is. But if this is the first year for you, your feelings may be as scattered as mine can get. Missing the good times, in a way resentful or angry that they have to be different this year, sorrow and some fear for what is ahead, and at the same time determined to make the holiday a year to remember.
Wherever you are, whatever the stage, the sweetness is precariously balanced with a bit of nostalgia and sadness. Having lived this long, we may understand it is all a part of life. We understand this year too will be added to the memories in our mind. It’s just that understanding in our minds doesn’t change how we feel in our hearts. We still can’t help but wish we could go back and stay there a little longer.