Monthly Archives: February 2017

How to explain my grief

If you had the most beautiful man or lover in the world and they loved you too… if their eyes still lit up when they saw you, after a year in the dementia ward. If all you wanted was for them to come home. And if they uttered, slowly, with lots of misslips, because words don’t work for them much any more, “So when can we go back, babe, back to where we used to live?”

And the answer you give is, “when the snow melts.” But he doesn’t know melting and he doesn’t know anymore what snow is.

Your most beautiful man.

Then he picks up your hand and asks, “Is this yours? It is very nice.” And counts your fingers. One and two are easy, three comes….four, kind of mispronounced, then after a long time a jumbled five.

Your most beautiful man, entertaining you, making you laugh by games with the cheezies, so pleased that you laugh, his love, your love, still there.

Soon you slip away while he is distracted, and go to the car and cry before you drive home to where we used to live.

Empty. Your most beautiful man is gone away but waiting lovingly for you.



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Distress Syndrome

Suddenly, at home after a very happy and successful day chatting with friends and colleagues at the Film Fest, I am overwhelmed with such anxiety that i am shivering, freezing, fingers and toes numb, head exploding, running around the house (it being dark and snowing out) aimlessly and too fast. I twirl in the hallway, seeking looking – i don’t know what is wrong.

Finally i stop and try to figure out what’s happening. Not a heart attack, not stroke, not blood sugar. Not… i think!…crazy. What? Don…it must be Don.

In a panic, i quickly phone, and the nurse picks up immediately. “Hi,” I say, trying to sound casual although my heart is in my mouth, “I was just wondering how Don is?”

“Don?” I hear a smile in her voice, “he’s fine. I think he had a good day (status in the special care ward is only in good days or not). I think he’s tucked away for the night already now.”

We chat about being careful driving in the snow tomorrow, and I hang up, feeling the tension drain away and tears of relief forming, but (another victory!) not falling.

So… What? I think this is another version of the pattern i already identified. Too much activity,  too much socialising and then a crash into grief in the following days.

This one was a bit different, maybe less intense. Always for almost  20 years we did a table for our magazine at the Film Fest, greeting friends and making connections. This year i didn’t even think about Don the whole day. I just enjoyed the way our work is progressing and the feedback from all the people who have chosen to be part of it. Saw a couple of great films, discussed points of view and plans with colleagues, enjoyed the company of friends.

I suspect that is the source of what was probably a sort of panic attack. Now that i must – and willingly – give care of my love over to others, i need to get rid of that constant caregiver’s adrenaline, the ever watchful never totally present in the personal now, way of being.

I need to be me alone in the world, which is hard enough for everyone, and to learn it is ok to give up the 24/7 duty cycle. To enjoy a day in my community without stressing about my caregiver responsibility. To stop the reflex which has defined my being for over a decade now. (This is something many many people are dealing with – it’s how the chips fall for many. Nothing to do with me in particular.)

And perhaps release the guilt of going forward without my partner. To heal the Care Givers’ Distress Syndrome.

Wish me luck.




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