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My anger has many facets to it and the direct caregiving anger goes something like this. Mom, you have to swallow the pill. Mom, no, no, like this, with the applesauce, no, the pill too, no not just the applesauce, no try it, no, okay try the water, no, okay, here’s more applesauce…now, no, no, now, swallow the pill WITH the applesauce.

But in my mind it goes something like this. Oh no, she’s having trouble swallowing her pills how am I going to help her with that?! How do I get her to do it?? OMG if she can’t swallow it, it won’t work, and if it doesn’t work then she’s going to die.

The same happens with food, and water and sleeping medications. How do I get her to……and then she’s going to die. I am nothing if not consistent.

My outside of caregiving anger sounds something like this. I’m angry at the time I have lost with my children and my husband. I’m angry we just can’t get in the car and do something. I’m angry my night ends with my family after our dinner. I’m angry at the time we have lost and continue to lose.

I’m angry at this pandemic and all of the people who aren’t taking it seriously.

I’m angry at the healthcare system for not having anything better to offer people living with dementia than get your affairs in order and here you can try these pills if you want. They “might” do something, if the moon is full, on even numbered months, but it won’t stop this horrific disease.

I’m angry at every professional who treats my mother and their continual best advice to me is “you’re doing a great job! Keep doing what you’re doing.”

I’m angry that I am the only one who is caring for her. I am angry that my siblings get to do what they want, when they want, and have time with their spouses and their grown children whenever they want to.

I’m angry that this disease has changed my mother so profoundly that I can’t even remember just being her daughter. And I’m angry that she can’t either.

But then I realized, is it anger? “I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was grief”. I think I’d rather be angry. At least the anger I can do something with. I go in the garage and sit in my car and scream, or take the foam baseball bat and beat up some old furniture, or go outside and scream at the sky.

The grief is in the knowing. Knowing I can do my best and it still won’t matter. Knowing what my mother has lost, what I’ve lost, what continues to be lost. I also know that this is not the space I want to live in. It is okay to visit but not to set up camp. Along with the grief, I see the Blessings I do have, and am so very grateful and accept them with open arms.

It is becoming harder to to process the grief because I am immersed in it. Being exhausted and emotionally beaten everyday does not lead to processing. And yet I know to go forward I must sit with it, again in the way of visiting but not living there. The only way out is through.


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