My dad is slipping away, ever so slowly.
His Parkinson’s disease is now impeding his swallowing. I’ve been frantically calling his speech therapist, who is working hard with him on improving his ability to swallow. As of today, he’s dehydrated and on IV fluids. As of today, he has pneumonia and has had blood drawn. According to my mom, he doesn’t talk much anymore.
My father is alive. But I’ve lost him anyway.
And grief is seared into my already-broken heart.
My mother is saddled with guilt that she put him in the nursing home for dementia/Alzheimer’s patients. When he first went into the nursing facility, he asked my mom, “We were always together; why are we apart now?”
This is the kind of stuff heartbreak is made of.
My brother and I explain to her that she had no choice: that she couldn’t care for him alone, even with aides. It was too difficult for her and too dangerous for him, for he couldn’t get the proper care in their home.
Selfishly, I reflect on all the loss endured this year: my cat, job, beloved aunt, and now my daddy, the bird whisperer, who could make a bird at the zoo say my name when I was a little girl. The person who always offered a plethora of food to whomever came into our home. A workhorse who steadfastly held two jobs just so our family could make ends meet.
I must admit, I’ve been sheltered for much of my life. I’ve been exceedingly fortunate to know all my elderly relatives because, well, they lasted until they were elderly. When they passed away in my pre-cancer life, I was extremely sad, but I wasn’t the way I am now. Depressed. Grief-smacked beyond measure.
How does one measure grief?
Since cancer, I haven’t been the same. But who is?
A couple of nurses recently recommended hospice for my father. My mom is against it; she understandably has an aversion to that word. I personally think hospice is in order, but it’s my mom’s decision to make. I’ve got a call to the doctor to find out his take and to understand what is going on in general with my dad.
And, lately, I find myself thinking, which is worse — cancer or Parkinson’s and its resulting dementia? And I find myself thinking that Parkinson’s is worse.
But the truth is, they both suck.
And, lately, I find myself bargaining with God again, although I have no idea what I’m bargaining for. All I know is that I’ve been praying for courage and strength to endure all this loss.
I need courage and strength in abundance.
How do you measure grief?
What advice do you have to help me cope?
Tags: father and dementia, grief, grief and cancer