We are all going to die – how, where, why and when are the unknown we live with from day to day. Dying naturally does not have to be depressing, sad maybe (if you choose to see it that way)…but not depressing. This is why we are reminded over and over throughout our life to make the best of it – it is temporary (either before our natural time or naturally). No need to break out the tissues for this post – trying to keep things real and as upbeat as possible here. Nobody likes death, it is not fun and how we choose to deal with it is a very personal thing. No matter what your beliefs, we can all agree that life as we know it right now, here on Earth, will come to an end for each and every one of us. Circumstances regarding the death of someone in our lives and our relationship with them, will also truly impact our grief and emotions differently each and every time. Just the way it is…
If you have been following along my 6 month journey with me writing about my caring for my Dad with Alzheimer’s Disease, or if this is the first post you are reading, humor and a positive attitude (and an awesome husband and great friends) have got me through this journey and kept me out of the insane asylum. I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass here – as I have said before – Alzheimer’s sucks and dying sucks, but caring for someone who is dying doesn’t have to be miserable with and black clouds. Caring for my Dad has been the final gift my Dad gave to me. It has been an honor to be able to care for him.
Many people have asked me if you can die of Alzheimer’s Disease. Six months ago, I only had one experience with it as my husband’s Aunt had it, but had never felt the need to learn more about it. Now that I am dealing with it head on, I have sucked up as much knowledge as possible. So how do Alzheimer’s patients die? I am not a medical professional nor do I play one on this blog…but from what I have learned – seems malnutrition and/or infection get our loved ones in the end. And you know – what – both are natural. Throw Hospice into the equation – and they help you to keep your loved one as comfortable as possible while your loved one experiences the natural dying process. To enter Hospice, there needs to be an approximate six month projection of life…though that does not mean someone will not live longer…or even get off it (my Grandfather has at 93). When a person will pass, is up to the person and a higher power, so nobody really knows.
I always find it best to write about what I know…and I know what Dad has been going through under my care. With the unlearning of many things with his Alzheimer’s and a couple of illnesses, he has become weaker over time. Once being able to scoot around on his walker…he progressed to being confined to a wheelchair and for the past few days, mostly in bed and now sleeping. When an Alzheimer’s patient gets any type of sickness or even a change of their environment (going to the hospital), their mental capacity can take a deep plunge, never to return. Because the fact of the matter is…when brain cells die…they are gone. Then there is the end of life rollercoaster ride. There have been several times along Dad’s journey, we thought he was very close to the end, but he surprised us and rallied back. Days without eating and sleeping all day, have been followed by good days of propelling his legs around on the wheelchair, eating, singing and sitting up at the table with the family. This disease, Dad and his personal journey to the end, is one nobody can control or predict. We have to smile and take in every good moment. Just yesterday he woke from an all day sleep and when I said hello, he answered back clearly, “Hi babe.” I’ll take it!
Am I sad? Well…sad that my kids will lose a Grandparent (Zaydeh) that they love very much. Sad, that I will not get to take Dad to Mardi Gras this year and that I will lose the man who shaped me into the woman I have become. But, I am not sad that he is passing away naturally, comfortably, and surrounded with lots of love in the comfort of our home. His system is slowly shutting down with sporadic fevers and all the medical tell-tale signs that he is getting close to the end. Being his caregiver during the final chapters of his life has been a true blessing and lesson in compassion and life for my whole family. It has brought us closer together and made us appreciate quality time at home together. We may shed some tears from time to time, thinking of Dad/Zaydeh/Sherm not being here with us, but in the end we will all smile thinking of all the wonderful memories we made together!