Archive for Dementia – Page 2

This Damn Grief

keysLet’s say it’s two or so months after your loved one’s death.

You are standing in the middle of the kitchen.

Your doctor’s appointment is across town and even if you left now, you’d be ten minutes late.

For the ninety-ninth time, you survey the pile of bills on the kitchen counter, and then the empty ceramic dish your youngest son crafted in elementary school that perches on the telephone table, and then the hooks on the wall by the door to the garage.

Now you start to cry.

You can’t find your car keys. And if you can’t find the keys, you can’t leave your house . . . let alone get to the doctor’s office. But that’s not the worst. Though in your early seventies and still feeling “young,” you are afraid that like your mother (who died a dozen years ago) and favorite uncle (currently in a pricey memory care facility), and also your best friend’s spouse, you are getting Alzheimer’s.

You can’t find your keys. And this morning, after your usual breakfast of granola and one slice of toasted wheat bread, you placed the carton of skim milk in the cupboard. Stupid? Forgetful? Silly? Last week, when mowing the lawn, you couldn’t locate the cumbersome green waste container for tossing in the grass clippings. It wasn’t until the next day that you spotted it in the corner of the garage. Who moved it where it didn’t belong? Gypsies? Gremlins? Read More →

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Death Certificates and Heart Failure

county-clerk-300x225Death certificates are some of the worst reading material you’ll ever own.

But they are necessary for the “business” after a loved one’s death. I suggest purchasing a number of certificates, with extras stashed in a file instead of requesting a few more and then a few more.

On a practical note, the mortuary handling the death will most likely create and complete the death certificate. Official copies can be obtained from a county clerk’s office*.

Insurance companies, banks, and similar institutions requiring proof of death will often want the legal certificate issued with the county’s seal. However, when handling my parents’ estate, the companies that requested an official certificate versus those that didn’t even want a copy of a copy were never predictable.

You will scrutinize the certificate, confirming the facts are accurate about your beloved: date and place of birth, full name, his or her “usual occupation,” location of the grave, and what is

The cause of death . . .

Will death’s cause surprise you? My father’s certificate proved unsettling. According to the one-page document printed on sturdy paper, Dad died from the mundane . . . “Heart Failure.” Read More →

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Even Slow Death Feels Sudden

He was solo climbing the Matterhorn. Eric fell. Eric died. A phone rang . . .

He was solo climbing the Matterhorn. Eric fell. Eric died. A phone rang . . .

My father’s dying spanned the better—or worst—stretch of a decade. Though not on his death certificate, Dad died from dementia. His decline was slow, like a daily drop of water filling a tub.

My mother’s dying occurred in the hottest stretch of a singular summer, a handful of weeks from diagnosis to death. Though not on her death certificate, Mom died because of an opportunistic, savage cancer. But her rapid decline also unfolded like a film stuck in slow motion. A solitary hour holding her hand in intensive care could feel like a week.

Then, in the midst of their dying, the phone rang. It rang while I wished my father’s cruel dementia would please, please, please come to an end. It rang while I longingly, lovingly prayed for an impossible miracle to spare Mom more pain.

In one call, my older sister informed me Dad had died. In the other, a year-and-a-half later, a nurse spoke on a phone down the hallway from Mom’s hospital room to tell me about the death. Read More →

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