By Brianne Grebil
If you have the unfortunate experience of having a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’re probably very familiar with the bad news. And there’s plenty… There is no cure or treatment. It will only get worse over time, never better. After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, doctors don’t have much to offer you other than making you aware of the physical and medical challenges up ahead.
What I want people to know is that, while those things are true, they are not the only things that you will experience during the journey with your loved one. Yes, there most certainly will be hardships and heartaches. It hurts to watch someone you love lose memories, connections, understanding, and function. Of course, it does. But, there is an ‘and’.
It is hard… and, if you keep your heart open, life will grant you grace, and show you deeper love.
As I walked the Alzheimer’s journey with my mother, who just recently passed away 5 years after being diagnosed, I began to see that underneath both of our suffering, there was something else lifting us up.
I knew it hurt too much to keep focusing on what we were losing. Life stripped my name from her, and our relationship. In the last few years of her life, she didn’t know I was her daughter. It took our memories away from her, it changed her personality, it made her aggressive and cruel. Day by day, more and more of the mother I knew was being taken away, and it broke my heart every time I thought about it.
But I also knew that there was never nothing. As things got taken away, other things were revealed. The question that would arise from my heart after the waves of pain subsided would be, “What’s left? What’s still there? What can’t be taken away?” Those questions took me deeper and deeper into the heart of Love. The kind of love that is unwavering, unconditional, ever-present, untouchable. Everyone’s journey through this disease will be different, but the grace and love that is underneath are constant and constantly available. It can guide you and cushion you as you walk the hard path.
What doctors won’t tell you after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is that you may learn how to love harder, deeper, and more freely, and this will be your saving grace. They won’t tell you this, because it can’t be seen from a medical perspective. This is the sight of the heart and soul, not the mind or body. To find your loved one beyond the disease, you will have to do whatever you can to see with different eyes. Once you do, it will be a different journey. It will still be hard, but something in you will know that the pain felt along the way will not be in vain.
Brianne Grebil is an author, life coach, and teacher exploring the powerful beauty and simple truths of life.
In her book, Love Doesn't Care If You Forget, Brianne does her best to show you deep love and eternal hope as she relays the life lessons she has seen through the journey of her mother's Alzheimer's.