Truth telling

This morning, after a very agitated yesterday — downright nasty to the long-suffering caregiver — my love slept over his morning coffee for an hour or two, so still it was as if he was absent. Then he staggered softly into the kitchen and said, “I’m dying.”

He has said this often over the last year or so, and our usual response has been some sort of bracing, “Oh, everyone dies eventually, but we don’t know when.” I tried that, but he looked at me and the words on my lips evaporated. And I said, “Yes.”

He asked, as he so often has, if the doctors could help, and this time I said, “No. They might be able to fix your pills so you feel better, but they can’t stop the disease. It’s like cancer – sometimes the doctors just can’t do anything.”

He nodded sadly, and said, “I’m afraid.”

I suddenly wonder if the terrible anxiety, the refusal to let me out of his sight, the visions of fires, and the constant fear are actually based on his fear of dying. I wonder if therapy can help those with dementia?

“Sometimes people just die quietly in their sleep and it really shouldn’t hurt at all.”

After a long calm silence, he said slowly, “But I wanted to help you.”

“Oh my love, you have helped me, for thirty-five years you have helped me. And we have had a good life together.”

This prompted a startled look — “Three years? That long? I thought it was only a year we’ve known each other.”

By now I am crying and I told the truth, “I don’t know what I am going to do without you. But …” (remembering that he needed to be set free), “life has a way of going on. It will work out. You know how life does.”

“Don’t cry, babe.”


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3 responses to “Truth telling

  1. Grace

    Oh Delores, That is so hard and brave of you! I wish he had faith in a loving God Who would comfort him and give him something to look forward to!
    Lord, I pray that Delores and her husband would have Your peace and comfort. You know what is needed, Heavenly Father. Help him to see and feel and receive the comfort and hope that You would want to give him and Delores Amen
    .Hospice would have some suggestions for you I think.


  2. Anonymous

    Delores my heart goes out to you . I agree Hospice might have ideas on what to say and if he can get some kind of help that can cut through his dementia and help him accept what is happening to him.
    xoxo Jeanie


  3. norleen lillico

    Oh dear, Delores, How difficult!!!! Words just can’t express. Deep peace to you, Norleen