*Jane (not her real name) had the full attention of everyone in the group so she continued her **‘share’.
“I’ve cooked breakfast for my husband everyday for forty years and I’ve always asked him what he wants to eat when he sits down at the table to read the paper in the mornings, but now he blows up if I ask him what kind of eggs he wants; oatmeal or cereal, fruit or coffeecake.”
“I used to love to have the grand kids over to spend the day with us but now they’re not in our house ten minutes, just being kids, laughing and running around and he starts yelling at them for no reason.”
“We have three grown kids, one lives out west and two are in the area but they won’t help, they don’t want to deal with him so they just don’t come visit anymore.”
Jane finished by looking down at the glasses hanging around her neck on a multi-colored jeweled silver chain, suddenly as quiet and still as she’d been vociferous and animated just moments before while she told her tale.
Almost instantly there were comments of support from the other members of the group, some were personal as it was obvious that they knew Jane outside of the group while others were more ‘general’ in what they had to say to her.
More than one person made note of the similarities to their own situations and offered sympathy (seemingly to her and by extension to themselves).
The facilitator listened to all that was said from around the room and then it was her turn.
The first thing she suggested (for Jane and everyone else in the room) was to put themselves in their loved one’s place and to imagine for a moment that ‘we’ were the ones with dementia, that ‘our’ whole lives had come undone (and we couldn’t understand why) and the world as we knew it was becoming a foreign place where once it had been home.
“What would that ‘feel’ like?” she asked. “Wouldn’t you be scared? Angry?”
Then she asked us to imagine what we might feel if things (activities, tasks, chores) that we used to do easily suddenly became difficult, our memory (of performing those ‘things’) no longer something we could depend on.
And where once we had been independent and strong we were suddenly dependent and weak because we didn’t understand ‘why’ the changes were happening or sometimes we might not recognize who our loved one was.
It was within this ‘mind-set’ that the facilitator wanted the group to place ourselves before she offered up a few suggestions.
* When anonymity is called for I do not use real names and sometimes alter descriptions to protect the identity and privacy of individuals that I come across in my journey
** A “Share” is a term used the world over by 12 Step and other Support Groups to describe a situation where a person has volunteered to speak openly, honestly and candidly about an issue, event, person or experience in their life