Last time I wrote Terry had come home from a long stint in hospital, and I was caring for him, with lots of support from many wonderful people. This continued on through January, until he had to go into hospital again. Despite my best efforts and despite all the help we had, I knew I couldn’t look after him at home any more. So he moved from hospital into residential care.
Oh my goodness, that paragraph covers so much heart ache, anguish, grief, anger and emotional turmoil. At the same time I had to come to grips with the complicated funding model for aged care in Australia, and that involved appointments with my lawyer, financial advisor, banks and Centrelink, the governmental department that deals with social services.
I don’t want this post to be about those dark times; be assured that I am okay now. I do want to tell you about three phrases that have helped me get through. Maybe something will resonate.
The first is from Brene Brown’s “Atlas of the Heart”. When you have so many emotions swirling about it is a relief to be able to name them, and this atlas helped me define what I was feeling. However the powerful phrase came from her introduction ~ The centre will hold. No matter how many emotional skirmishes and battles were happening within me, I knew that my centre, my core, the essence of who I am would hold firm. That I would find my feet and get through this. It was my crucial mantra and it helped me during some dark times.
The second phrase was one of my own making ~ Dragonfly time. December and January seems to be dragonfly season as I saw so many of these lovely creatures on my walks. To watch them flit around calmed my mind. Then I found that dragonflies symbolise change, transformation and adaptability, which was exactly what we were, and are, going through.
Terry has been in his new home for about 6 weeks now, and he is becoming more settled. However, it hasn’t been an easy time for him, or me. I know it is the best place for him, and our only option, but unfortunately he can’t always see it that way. It helps me to understand that this transition time can take a couple of months. On particularly difficult visits I remind myself that it’s dragonfly time, a transition time.
The third phrase comes from Ryan Holiday:
Success, at the end of your life, is a crowded table—family and friends that want to be around you.
I don’t need to wait to the end of my life ~ I know my table has so many wonderful people around it. People who care for me, who listen, who understand. People who not only say “How’s Terry going?” but also ask “And how are you?”. I have friends who have said to ring them whenever I need to, even in the middle of the night. Or walk with me. Or visit Terry with me. Or feed me. Or drop in for a cuppa and help me work my way through all of this. Or organise surprise picnics. Or who are helping me work out what my new life is like. And who understand when I say “Thanks, but I just need to be alone.”
I have a very crowded table, and I am so grateful for every person sitting there.
And lastly I want to give a shout out for books. I love reading whatever my state of mind, but to be able to drop into someone else’s world has kept me upright over the last few months. To escape into a book is a tired phrase, but so true. All praise to books, authors and libraries.
16 replies on “The next stage”
Thank you Anne. I’m sorry for what you have gone through but grateful you are doing ok and can write about it. It’s one of the reasons I keep writing my blog too, to let others know what happens in a life and how I adjust and hopefully remain a contributor to society for as long as I can. Very best thoughts to you and Terry.
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Thanks for your thoughts, Ardys. I often found myself searching for stories from others going through something similar. Not only is it reassuring, but I learnt things too. So hopefully my writing can help someone else….as you say, remain a contributing member of society, a giving back.
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Thank you for sharing this. I hope it gets easier for you both. Hugs.
Thanks Dawn. It has become easier for me, and I think (And hope!) for Terry too. I am so grateful to my wonderful friends and family.
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Sending you HUGE Hugs Anne. You have worked so hard to get everything in place to be able to care for Terry yourself but I did wonder if that would still be possible if he deteriorated further. dementia is such a cruel disease not only for the person with it but for those who love them and have to watch them disappear bit by bit. I am sure you have chosen the Nursing Home for Terry very carefully, one where he will get the care he needs from people who get to go home at the end of the shift and recoup before the next one – it is the unremmittingness of 24/7 care which is so exhausting. I know you will worry about him, visit him lots, continue to care for him whilst there, but you also need to claim a bit of life for yourself and use your creativity to bring the joy you need to brighten his days.
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Anne, thank you for sharing such a meaningful, personal and generous story… about something many may be dealing with or encounter in the future. Like Ardys I’m sorry for what you & Terry are going through but I love what you have written, and anyone reading who needs what you say will feel your presence at their table. Take care ♡
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Anne, what a beautiful, heartfelt post. You’ve somehow written about something pretty tough and sad, and made it uplifting. I hope you’re doing well and that you continue to stay strong. And many wishes that you and Terry settle in to this stage of your lives as well as possible. 🌻
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Anne, you are a lovely soul. You’ve shown so much heart and resilience in the midst of your sorrow and grief. Thank you for sharing the tools that are helping you through. I’m glad you have a crowded table, and I’m pleased to hear, too, that friends can honor your desire to be alone. We need both to process and survive. I wish I could wrap my arms around you. xo
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Oh Anne…I did hope that things would plateau again for Terry, and you. I am so very sorry that things continued to deteriorate. And yes, there is a point at which home care simply is not possible. Dad’s fall meant that I was saved from having to make that decision, but I know that one day the Offspring will have to face that point for me, and I dread it. Until then all any of us can do is what we can, while we can. Being able to escape into books and games and social media keeps me sane and happy.
Is there an escape for Terry? Does he enjoy the internet, or reading, or music or some other passion? Maybe if he can find that magic door into summer he’ll be able to settle in a little easier.
Massive hugs to both of you.
I had been thinking about you, Anne. I think I’d missed your last post but I knew “Life” must have you in its grip. I’ve been embroidering through the dark winter and whilst visiting my elderly mother whose recovering from a major operation. Yes being able to name emotions is important. You cant work though them otherwise and they get stuck.
Thank you for persevering (meaning: thoughtfully & painstakingly writing about) and writing down these precious, practical insights. For those of us less articulate, you have revealed the inner realities of ‘this stage’. Even if details are different – as we are all individuals and experiences vary – your journey resounds with familiarity for us all. Thank you for writing through the midst of your hard times.
I wish you strength and peace.
I’m so sorry I’ve been off the radar recently; I’d hate for you to think I didn’t read or didn’t care when you opened up to us all so beautifully. I will simply hope to see you when we are in Melbourne again in June, and at that time, I will ask “what I can I do for you?”. If the answer is nothing, that is fine, and if the answer is something you will find helpful, that’s finer. Please pencil us in for Sunday 18th June, in the hope that this time, we’ll be able to catch up.
My eyes teared up when reading your post and I am sorry you’ve had to go through this journey and that your hubby had to go into residential care. I need to read Atlas of the Heart.
I am glad you have a “crowded table” and I appreciate reading your reflections on how you are navigating a difficult time.
I read this post with a broken heart and tears welling for both you and Terry. You are a strong person, a person with a huge heart and so very much love to give. I have no words that will matter, so let me just say that I’m thinking of you tonight, that I am so very sorry for what you’re going through, and most of all, that I’m sending you a HUGE HUG straight from my heart. 🤗 Thank you for the update. Take good care, my friend. 💝
I agree with all the comments
But also that feeling you need to find your “core” that was there all the time, it just took a battering when other life got in the way.
I’m still working on “flow” which hasn’t been easy since I tried to “find myself a new home/community” but now I’ve added to activities out of the house, not a wide range but certainly different to “previous” ideas…
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