1) The Loss of a Person We Once Knew
Sometimes the people you love change in significant ways. They are still in your life—but not in the way you remember or once knew them. Illness often changes people, especially mental illness or dementia. In dementia, a person still is with us, but is not like the person we previously knew. The ties that bind us to one another, the shared memories and even the personality are no longer accessible. Sometimes the changes can be startling. The mother of one of my clients grew up in the segregated South. Yet her daughter was proud that her mom had been active in the civil rights movement, even though her mom lost friends and alienated family. Her mother would proudly tell the story of how, as an adolescent girl, she shamed her all-white church into integrating services. Yet, as her mom lapsed into dementia, she began using racial epithets. Her mother's language not only shocked her daughter but also called into question her mom's true beliefs. Was her mother really the progressive person she believed her to be?