Have you ever had a loss? Losses come in many shapes and sizes, also
emotional and unemotional. Take for example the loss of a piece of costume jewelry, it is not something that has any great intrinsic value and probably little emotional value. But if it were your grandmothers wedding ring and it were lost or stolen then the value increases greatly both intrinsically and emotionally. Everything has its own worth, large or small.
Almost three years ago, Scamp my miniature Schnauzer, died after a
severe stroke, and last year we lost Chloe, another schnauzer, to cancer. We had Scamp for almost 13 years and Chloe for only one. We were devastated over the loss of both dogs even though we only had Chloe a year, she had become part of the family and burrowed herself deep into our hearts.
Cars are sometimes as big a loss just like the loss of a pet. According to one insurance company ad on TV we are so close to our cars that we name them and if we have an accident and it is totaled, we are depressed beyond measure, then when the insurance company pays for a car that is newer you break out into your happy dance. Really, you must kidding. I have had cars I really liked but never to the point that it was a love affair.
Some people are that way about their houses or the possessions in them. When we sold our house 11.5 years ago there were some nostalgic feels I had when we left, it is only normal, it is not like losing a pet or a loved one. Within just a few months we were settled into our new home and had pretty much forgotten about the old house. but if that loss is the result of a fire or a violent storm would that change how I woud feel? More than likely I would be devastated, the loss of everything that Kathy and I have worked for over these many years and the memories they represent.
But these losses are trivial compared to the loss of someone you love. The physical death of someone is devastating at the monent and the feeling of hurt will last a short time and turn into a mild ache coupled with the memories that will last a lifetime. What about the loss of a loved one, not by death or divorce, but by an illness. It is a toughter loss than can be imagined.
My wife, Kathy, has Parkinson’s disease, it is hard to feel the loss when she is right here. Her walking has slowed, balance is an issue we can overcome with a walker. Sometines cognitive issues have come up and has caused friction between us, it is not like losing someone to dementia or Alzheimer Disease. We get irritated with each other, but that is because we are around each other a lot more now that we have entered in that part of life call retirement. Because of the changes that my wife has gone througth I now do more things around the house, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry, making beds, doing the dishes after meals. And then there are the doctor’s appointments and since she no longer drives I take her to all of her appointments. Someone told me not long ago, they having recently lost their loved one, that it was like losing your loved one twice, once to the disease and again when the loved one passes on their rewards.
I had hoped that the two of us would be able to do some traveling and visit places that
we had never seen or do again things that we had done in the past, but that is not going to happen. If I want to see or do something, I have to plan it for the times that I take for respite care. This does not mean that my wife and I can not go places and take some time to enjoy ourselves, it is just not very often. For example, this July we are going to the Oregon Gardens in Silverton to see the 4th of July celebration. Can you imagine seeing the Gardens lit by the exploding rockets? It should be spectactular.
Losses like these are what you make of them. They can be devastating and overwhelming or with a lot of love and support it can be rewarding. Support comes in many varities, your church (if you have one) can be a great resource, disease related support groups, your city/county may have programs to help with care while you are taking respite time, organizations that you belong to (Masons, Elks, Eagles) might also be able to help. While on respite ensure that your loved one has plenty of stimulation, lonelyness can turn into depression which can lead into much tougher issues. Some places, like here in Oregon, have organizations that support particualar diseases or illnesses, ours is Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon
And for goodness sake take care of yourself, be involved with activities that will help you relieve the pressures that build up. If necessary get yourself a therapist, this a great way of blowing off steam without judgment. Many therapist have tools to help you cope with loved ones suffering from diseases or illnesses that may or may not linger on for years.