May 23, 2012

Sue Wonders -- Am I Prepared for Dotty's Death?

Sometime after Dotty passes, I'll take a few minutes and take a series of long deep breaths. I'll blow away every single negative aspect of Alzheimer's disease in my life. I will dismiss the negative. I'll hold on to all the positive.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I actually wrote this response to Sue's comment on Tuesday, June 15, 2010. I think many of you will find it of great interest. You can read my response in full below Sue's comment and question. Comments and observations are welcomed.

Sue Ronnenkamp entered this comment under the article -- Dotty Continues to Amaze Me.

A recent story about Bill Moyers and his retirement included this quote of his: "I have known all along you need to know when the time has come to exit. There is a time. There is a season." This applies to retirement and to our lives.

I'm happy for you that your mom has recovered so well and so quickly - but I do hope that you are also preparing mentally and psychologically for her exit from this world. Even those who are your mom's age and in good condition (like my dad) don't want to live forever. Many, many older adults pray for an easy and fast death when the time comes so that's what I pray for and wish for them. Since your mom will not be able to make this decision for herself, you will need to make it for her when the time comes. I know death of our loved ones is a great loss but death can also be a great blessing in old age.


I read extensively on death and grief. This includes the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross including -- On Death and Dying and the Five Stages of Grief. I also read the works of the modern day Thomas Moore including -- Care of the Soul. I read all of these works before the death of my father 19 years ago. I have those book right here near me.

I started preparing for the death of my parents in 1983. This included long conversations with both my parents about their wishes.

I was surprised by my own reaction when my father died -- at the moments of his death. I mainly felt sad and lonely -- I missed him. I did not feel the way I expected to feel.

Oddly, within an hour both Dotty and I were ravishingly hungry. We had built up a lot of stress during the last months of his life while we took care of him.

Dotty and I were right here taking care of my Dad until the last moment. We gave him his wish -- he wanted to die at home. We did it together. After it was over, almost immediately, we felt an enormous sense of accomplishment. It also made us closer than I could have ever imagined.

At the moment when my father was dying my x-wife Tammye was screaming at the top of her lungs and right into my father's ear -- "Frannie, Go Into the Light". It took me a few days to ask her why she did it. Her response was simple and straightforward -- "I wanted to make sure he went into the Light."

I have known for many years that Dotty could die at any moment. I do not fear death, nor do I fear Dotty's death. In fact, to me death is a wonderful thing. This is just my own personal opinion.

I am expecting to feel enormously sad and lonely when Dotty passes. In some ways we are attached at the hip now.

I do know this, in short order after Dotty passes, I will start dreaming about Dotty and she will still be the Dotty I always knew. Most of the time I will wake up laughing. Sometimes I will wake up crying. In all cases, I will be happy that I am still thinking and feeling about Dotty. I'll miss her but I won't be sad at the end of the day. I'll be happy because while her body will be gone, she'll continue to live on in my mind.

I think after her death people will be surprised about how I talk about Alzheimer's disease. Dotty and I are not victims. I honestly believe that together we beat Alzheimer's. This is my belief.

I will have a very positive message to deliver -- of this I am certain. Much of that message will be about Dotty and me. I'll be smiling and laughing when I deliver that message. I understand some Alzheimer's caregivers might not like this.

Sometime after Dotty passes, I'll take a few minutes and take a series of long deep breaths. I'll blow away every single negative aspect of Alzheimer's disease in my life. I will dismiss the negative. I'll hold on to all the positive.

Then I'll take some time to think about the Dotty I always knew. The Dotty that never ceased to amaze me and make me laugh.

Sue, I know what I am going to do if Dotty gets down to the one inch line while suffering from Alzheimer's. I have a plan. I know -- exactly -- what I am going to do. I am looking forward to learning when and if I am going to divulge that plan. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe its gonna be just between Dotty and me.

I know this. When Dotty gets ready to go I'll whisper in her ear -- Dotty, go into the Light.

Current update from Bob today, May 23, 2012: It appears that I decided to divulge my plan and a lot more. Dotty's is nearing death.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room