March 18, 2020 © by Judith Allen Shone
Contributor, Jean Lee, Guest Author
As an author writing about caregiving for those with Alzheimer’s, I am thrilled to present one of the co-founding members of the AlzAuthors group, Jean Lee.
Through her experiences caring for both her parents, both diagnosed on the same day, she knows the value of having resources when we find we need help. She also has felt the heartache of losing her parents to this horrible disease.
Jean Lee joins with us as she shares about Healing, Going Forward from Grief. I was delighted that this former caregiver, and one who generously illuminates the caregiving world, would share this difficult topic, but one we all face. I am grateful I can continue to learn from her.
Thank you, Jean, for all your contributions to, and support for, caregivers, and especially for being part of the Accepting the Gift of Caregiving Chain of Care ~jas
~ ~ ~
Healing, Going Forward From Grief
by Jean Lee
Although my time as an Alzheimer’s caregiver is over, the disease still colors each of my days.
I worked full time as an elementary school teacher, when I became the primary caregiver and decision maker for both my parents who were diagnosed on the same day in 2006. They declined, hand in hand.
During those years, I moved them three times, eventually to a secure memory care unit where they passed with my sister and I holding their hands.
As I gain distance from those years, the memory of cleaning out the house in which they hoarded and the guilt of taking everything away from those who gave me everything may have faded, but certainly not softened.
The real question for me now is How do I heal?
How do I move forward from grief?
How do I honor them in gladness instead of sadness?
Did Alzheimer’s teach me anything?
Mom and Dad were positive until the end. Repeating a mantra of “We’ve been so lucky. We’re so happy.” They simply smiled when they could no longer speak, remember their own names, or mine. Dad’s last words to me were, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
In their honor, I try to count my blessings every day. Even when something negative happens, I take time to be consciously thankful for a warm home, power, and water.
I’m in my mid sixties now. My children have children of their own. I treasure my time with my grandchildren, trying to make important memories for myself and for them while I still can. After all, these are the last people on earth who will carry memories of me forward.
I also develop relationships with others who have traveled the Alzheimer’s journey with their loved ones. As a society, we talk more about caregiving than in previous generations. Talking helps. We’re ending the stigma and silence. As a cofounder of AlzAuthors.com we’ve brought over 200 authors of books and blogs about Alzheimer’s and dementia together with the purpose of gathering these resources to benefit others currently on the journey.
As children of Alzheimer’s, the disease niggles in the back of our minds, regardless of how positive we try to be. Maybe Alzheimer’s has taught me grace, regardless of what happens in the future. I hope I’ll be able to treat my children in a loving and positive way if they ever become my caregivers.
When I wrote my memoir, Alzheimer’s Daughter, I was torn up with guilt at the thought of publishing and making my journey with my parents’ public. I remember my son asking me, “Mom, would you be proud of me if I wrote a book?” I smiled and responded that of course, I would be so proud of him for writing a book. His next question caught me off guard. He asked, “Mom, would you be proud of me if I wrote a book about you if you get Alzheimer’s?” That question hit me in the belly. It made me step back and think——hard. I replied of course I would be so proud of him, even if he had to write something so painful.
So, how do we heal? How do we move forward from grief? I guess we accept the gift of depth that Alzheimer’s gives us and we move forward with a positive heart to help others.
Copyright © 2019 Jean Lee
~ ~ ~
Jean Lee spends hours now sharing books from authors who write to encourage caregivers. She continues her gift of caring with a traveling library of sorts, attending shows with this wealth of knowledge so others can see and pick what resonates.
Jean wrote lesson plans for 22 years as an elementary school teacher. She had no aspirations to write a book, however when both parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on the same day, her journey as their caregiver poured out on paper through Alzheimer’s Daughter.
After the sadness of her parents decline, life brought her a joyful topic–triplet grandchildren. She is currently working on a series of three books for ages 9-12 entitled The Lexi’s Triplets Series, written through the voice of the family mutt.
In Jean Lee’s words: “Alzheimer’s Daughter, mirrors my own journey caring for both parents who were diagnosed on the same day. It is written with wincing honesty about the cruel affects of the disease, but a WWII love story held together by faith and family is contained within the pages.”
You can follow Jean at:
Copyright © 2020 Judith Allen Shone
Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Accepting the Gift of Caregiving is sponsored by:
“Is There Any Ice Cream?”
Surviving the Challenges of Caregiving for a Loved One
with Alzheimer’s, Anxiety and COPD.
Accepting the Gift of Caregiving, Part One
Available at A Different Drummer Books in Burlington, Ontario, Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado and
online at Amazon and other book sellers. Ask your library to order it if you do not find it there yet.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Halton’s most trusted home care provider, and have been for over 85 years
In Ontario, phone ACCLAIM HEALTH:
Visit ACCLAIM website
See also Related Links & Resources for more office locations