Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Anger and Acceptance

I know this is supposed to be about laughing at Alzheimer's, but you will quickly learn that I like to bask in intense feelings all over the spectrum. Even though we can laugh at many of the things that our beloved Alzheimer's patients go through, those chuckles often come out in the middle of other intense feelings.

When dealing with an Alzheimer's diagnosis, there is always anger. It is a normal part of the grieving process. I remember having strong anger, even at the age of 9, when my grandmother died from Alzheimer's. That was very traumatic for me, because I was very close to her. And after she died, it seemed like all I kept hearing was that there were all of these advances in caring for and treating Alzheimer's disease. I just kept thinking, "Where was all of this news before? Why couldn't my grandmother have had access to these medications?"

Flash forward twenty years. My mother started showing signs of Alzheimer's. Only, she was able to camouflage those symptoms in front of many of the medical professionals. We were always told that we were wrong. There was nothing wrong. I got angry at doctors who were ignoring my pleas to help my mother.

My own mother started showing some anger. She knew what was happening to her, only she didn't want to accept it. She watched her mother and brother battle the disease, and had always feared she would eventually succumb to it. She often yelled at us when we tried to tell her something that she had forgotten. We tried to apologize for having to tell her more than once, but it didn't work. I tried really hard to separate myself from the situation, but it still hurt. And I was angry that she was angry.

Insert semi-funny story: My mother had stopped driving over a year ago. It was getting ridiculous to pay for two cars and two insurance policies, when only one car was being driven. So, she and my father traded in both older cars for one newer van. I came home for vacation, and all I kept hearing was that the car had been stolen. It didn't matter how much we tried to explain it to her. She just couldn't remember trading it in.

Move on to acceptance.

As much as it has pained me to watch my mother's decline, I have had no choice but to take it for what it is. Granted, I live a few hundred miles away and it is easier to accept from afar. When people at work ask me about it, I just keep repeating my mantra, "It is what it is." And I have to choose how I handle it.

I'm not going to lie: I have cried through writing this post. I will probably cry through writing many posts. That is what I do and how I deal. And then, I move on and accept. I can't change what is happening to my mother. But, I can control how I respond to it.

I mourn her loss every day. I almost wish she were dead, because that would be easier to accept right now than what is facing her. And again, I choose to laugh in spite of it.


  1. Thank you for choosing A is for "Anger and Acceptance" it suits your post.

    I really feel for you and your situation, my grandmother is suffering from Alzheimers and we haven't even begun to figure out how to take it.

    Anger is definitely the stage we have been going through lately. I hope that given some time we will learn to "Accept" the situation and even "Adapt" to her needs and our own loss.

  2. Thank you. It is hard to get to that point, and I don't know that you ever truly accept it. I like the word "adapt." If I can stay awake, I may have to write on that.....or I will just do it tomorrow, lol.

  3. Hey great post! It's been open all day on my 'things to read' list, and I'm glad I did! Count me as a new subscriber. :)

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  5. My grandfather fought the disease for as long as he possibly could. My grandmother used it as an excuse to give up. He passed away relatively quickly while she's hung around and, though entirely unaware of anything happening around her, seems in no particular hurry to go anywhere.

  6. I live about 3 hours away from my grandmother and sometimes it makes it easier. I feel guilty though that my mother and sister are left taking care of her daily. It's so hard for them to think positive.

    I too sometimes wish my grandmother was dead rather than just a shell of her former self. But then I feel so horrible. Would I want her dead if she simply had amnesia? But it is different. She hasn't just lost her memories; she's lost the ability to reason, to read, to think logically. I'm getting angry just typing about it so I'll close now.