27 June 2017

Written for OptionB.org  https://optionb.org/

It’s different to grieve the death of a loved one when they have been sick for a long time. It isn’t as shocking, and it includes a sense of relief that the suffering is over.

But I’m not sure that it’s easier, though. The grieving starts years before death. And that’s tough for sure.

It was June 2010 when my dear husband, Richard, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; a few years later, he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. I knew what to expect with Parkinson’s, but I’d never heard of Lewy body dementia and didn’t anticipate the impact that its hallucinations and delusions would bring. I was new to this game and didn’t know what the future would hold.

As early as 2008, Richard started being more anxious. As one example, he suddenly developed a fear of flying. Despite first-class tickets and flawless flights, he would spend the ten hours of an international flight checking his watch roughly every three minutes—every one to three minutes for ten hours. That’s really hard to do.

Paranoia and anxiety were never far away after that. Hallucinations and delusions dominated our world shortly thereafter. From 2015 on Richard needed professional care and was in assisted living for a year, before I bought the condo below me for Richard and to allow for 24/7 caregiver support.

Dementia and Parkinson’s are horrible diseases. I don’t wish them on anyone. But as with any other challenge in life, they do provide an opportunity to learn and grow, whether you want to or not.

It’s been over three months now since Richard’s death, and I’m bridging to my next chapter of life. I had been a caregiver and “extraordinary” wife for so long, always taking care of every detail. And now that’s over. A bit of a shock, really.

Now Richard’s spirit takes care of me, and I feel him every day. He’s much happier to be rid of his uncooperative body and the limitations his diseases brought.

We had such a great life together. It was filled with beauty, adventure, lots of fun, and a deep and lasting love. Richard taught me to be a better person, although I wasn’t really that interested in being better. He still considers me a work in progress and continues to teach me kindness, patience, tolerance, and unconditional love on a daily basis. He keeps me smiling and reminds me not to take myself or life too seriously. I am so deeply grateful.


This is a chapter from my book Parkinson’s: A Love Story with Dementia for Dessert.  You may find it on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/Parkinsons-Love-Story-Dementia-Dessert-ebook/dp/B07K4RLC2D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542135434&sr=8-1&keywords=Parkinson%27s+A+Love+Story+with+Dementia+for+Dessert&dpID=41xS3edPH0L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch  Your feedback and reviews are most welcome.

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