Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Dark Side Of Love
They were bitter tears. She smiled awkwardly though the tissue as she apologized. She never expected to find herself a single mother at such a young age. I paused and allowed my patient time to collect herself.
As we sat in silence, I searched for solace. How many times had I comforted mourning spouses? Days, months, years after their partner died, the sadness remained. I would like to assure her that it would get better, but in some ways it wont. The wound will not heal. It changes, scars, and is often momentarily forgotten. But it never goes away.
Where is Harry? Did he wander off?
I looked with pity at the elderly woman sitting in the corner of the activity room at the nursing home. Her husband died a year ago. At first the staff would gently remind her that he was gone. Her face would twist into a frown and she would begin to cry, but moments later the cobwebs of dementia would cloud her insight.
When is Harry coming back?
Time wasn't measured in days or hours, her attention span could barely hold on to seconds and moments. Her internal clock was set to a time when life was better. Her husband would be back from the store in minutes, and the grandchildren were playing in the yard.
It was an isolated existence fraught with confusion.
She lived in a protected shell of memories.
All pain was temporary.
Dementia steals away memories and the ability to function. It decimates that which makes each person so unique: the experiences, the past, and the ability to hurt and mourn.
I do not envy my young patient who lost her spouse. The boundless pain she feels will corrode and rot inside of her.
But the ability to hurt is a gift.
It's the dark side of loving too much.
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 7:56 AM