Loving Every Version of Your Loved One
There were many different versions of my mom throughout the ten years she battled Alzheimer’s disease. With each new stage of the disease, my mom became a different version of herself. With every decline, my mom changed into a different person, a person she had never been before. She continued to lose more bits and pieces of the mom I had always known until she eventually became a different person entirely.
When my mom passed away, I expected to feel sadness and grief over the loss of my mom, but I didn’t expect to feel sadness and grief for each and every version of her throughout her ten years living with Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t until my mom passed that I realized I had come to love every different version of my mom along the way.
I loved the version in the beginning when she was still mostly my mom, but with some memory loss and cognitive issues. I loved the version in the middle when she needed help getting dressed, eating, and using the bathroom. I loved the version later on when she needed help walking, standing up, and feeding herself. I even loved the version somewhere in the disease when she would become agitated, tell me to get out of her house, or yell at me for ruining everything.
No matter what version, she was still my mom
I loved every version of my mom because she was always still my mom. Her heart remained pure and innocent. Her love remained strong and constant. And truthfully, the worse her Alzheimer’s became the more I loved her and wanted to do anything to protect her. I made sure to show my mom how much I loved her every chance I got and I know with complete certainty she felt my love. Her sweet and caring heart was proof of that.
Many people say when your loved one has Alzheimer’s you lose them twice – once to the disease and then again when they die. While this is true, I would add that you actually lose your loved one repeatedly over time as they are constantly morphing into new and different versions of themselves. I used to refer to my “old mom” and my “new mom,” but I realize now there were many more than just two versions of her.
For anyone who is either just embarking on this journey or currently in the thick of it, my advice would be to embrace each and every version of your loved one you meet along the way. Meet them wherever they are and focus on what they can still do rather than what they are lacking. Every version of your loved one still needs your time, attention, and love. They still need your kindness, grace, and empathy. There is so much to learn from every version of your loved one. There is so much unconditional love to be given and received.
And hopefully, you will still see glimpses of your loved one shine through because I promise you, they are still in there.
How are you doing?