Learning to Let Go

6 Dec

We all know that learning to let go is a part of life.   There are so many occasions where we are faced with the reality that we must let go in order to move on.   When we go from one phase of life into another, it involves letting go.  We know the feeling of leaving a home, a job, a marriage, and even an old habit behind.  And those of us who have experienced losing a parent, loved one or dear friend, know the pain of letting go of their presence in our every day lives.

Since Ernie’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, both of us were forced to let go of  life as it had been in our normal married relationship.  I had to let go of my business opportunities and my every day activities in order to take care of his health and to stay on top of the new responsibilities of running a household and managing the finances.  Ernie had to learn to let go of the control of finances, driving a car, business dealings, and his love of playing golf, to just name a few.   As most of these let go’s were challenging for us both, we had no choice and found little time to mourn over these losses in order to keep proceeding forward.

When the disease advanced, Ernie had to move into a senior facility.   Both of us, again, faced letting go.  I was faced with letting go of married life as a full-time caregiver to a life of single living.  And despite it being somewhat of a relief from worry and exhaustion from being his caregiver, it was an emotional and extremely lonely time for me.  Ernie, on the other hand, had to let go of  the familiar comforts of his home and make the senior facility his new residence.  He had to learn to say good-bye to me each day/night I had to leave him.  Looking back, despite the emotional ups and downs, we handled these as well as to be expected.

Life now– as it has been for a year and a half — has become the norm with my visits to and from the senior facility which has become my home away from home.  The staff and other residents have become both his family and my family.  I know, deep down, that this is about to change.  Ernie is declining fast and I feel his time in this life is limited.

Over the last six months, he has lost 50+ lbs and is growing weaker by the day.  He is having frequent falls, now has a wheel chair, and seems distant and lost in how he spends his days.  Hospice visits him daily.  When not napping, he seems preoccupied with imaginary things in front of him at which he bats away or picks.  His conversation is  hushed with words that only he understands.  Occasionally, however,  a smile, a kiss or a touch of my hand surprises me as he comes into our “world” for a split second.  For that second, I give thanks.

Now, I am facing a bigger letting go…

I am not God, and don’t know the “when,” but I do feel the end of his life is approaching with each day.  I value our time together and, at the same time, am trying to prepare myself for the reality of his passing which seems imminent.  I know that the absence of Ernie from my life will be devastating and with it, will come the loss of Sunrise, “my home-away-from-home,”  its  residents with whom I have developed relationships, and the staff who I have fully trusted, and loved.

As we see it, we feel the best for Ernie now is to move on.  My prayers are for him to feel safe, unafraid, and loved whenever the time comes.  Still, I take in each day, and appreciate every moment I have with his physical presence and the visits with my family at Sunrise.   Am I ready to let go?  I’m not sure but I am certainly trying to move ahead the best way I can.  After all, letting go allows us all to move forward.

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7 Responses to “Learning to Let Go”

  1. Theresa Hupp December 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Thank you for an honest and loving post. My parents are going through the same thing — my mother now in a dementia care facility, while my father is still in their home and visiting her daily. My prayers are with you.

    • mebwoodacre December 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

      Theresa, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your parents in this challenging situation. Remember to take each day/moment and find the joys of being together. Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.

  2. linda December 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    very insightful. and thank you for your honest sharing. love you. l

  3. cathycotter December 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    Thank you for your insights Margo. You are a blessing!

  4. boomer98053 December 6, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    I see this part of your life’s journey coming to an end and I grieve for you. Life without Ernie will be very difficult, even though you’ll be able to celebrate the fact that he will no longer be constrained by the disease’s hold on his mind and body. You have been grieving the loss of Ernie for some time now. The next chapter of loss will be different, but eventually it will be healing. Many blessings to you for now, and for the days ahead. Irene in Redmond, Washington.

  5. Juliebeverly December 7, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    What a beautiful and honest message to share, you are an amazing role model (always have in so many ways), thank you for sharing your experiences. I can’t imagine how difficult this has been but your strength and honesty is an inspiration. Warmest of hugs and prayers for peace to you and your family.

  6. Joyce A. Mills December 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    My dearest Cousin Margo: You have handled each hour and day since Ernie’s diagnosis with honesty, dignity, love and realism. I am not surprised because I just knew you were capable of handling it all in such a way. I am proud of you. I think of you and Ernie often and pray for you both. You know that our family will always be here for you and embraces you. I love you very much. Helen Joyce

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