It probably wouldn’t come as a big surprise to any caregiver to learn that when the University of Indianapolis surveyed 400 Alzheimer’s caregivers, 80% identified grief as their No. 1 challenge. When your loved one has dementia, your grief is ambiguous because it doesn’t have a defined beginning. It just sneaks up on you when you think you’re doing a great job of handling everything.
Each time Jim lost a skill, I grieved. Not only did I grieve the losses, I anticipated more to come. Yet, I was determined not to become mired in a world of sadness without hope of better days ahead.
Writing helped me chip away at the seemingly insurmountable task of being a primary caregiver. My journal became my therapy as I wrote about my thoughts, fears, and frustrations. Along with the bad, I interwove moments of joy and humorous incidents.
I wrote throughout our ten-year journey including April 18, 2005, the day Jim left this world for a better land. Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis realizes that writing helped me through the years I was a caregiver, and has turned me into a woman on a mission. I hope sharing our story will help others who travel this same journey.
Caregivers and people who blog tell their story, and while they write about the abnormal that has become their norm, they find spiritual healing in the midst of chaos. Writing is therapy for those who struggle with grief. While collecting and editing 37 true stories for Alzheimer’s Anthology of Unconditional Love, I often received notes from the authors telling me how cathartic it was to write about their experiences.
I’m a believer in the therapeutic benefits of writing and have completed a first draft of a manuscript on writing as therapy. I began blogging in 2008 and a year later published my posts in Early Onset Blog: Essays from an Online Journal, and this year released Early Onset Blog: The Friendship Connection.
Sometimes the intensity of re-living the most difficult decade of my life helped me put everything into perspective, but it also left me emotionally drained. My blog is filled with my non-fiction writing, and you may not realize I also write fiction.
Although all therapeutic writing research is based on non-fiction writing, I find fiction writing to be therapeutic too. The best thing about fiction—you can make it turn out anyway you want. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never figured out how to do that in the real world.
Now, I am working on a fiction project, an anthology—A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas. This book is going to be a fun project. Submissions are open to everyone! Visit www.mozarkpress for details about the Hot Flash Mommas Fiction, Fun, and Forties Writing Contest and the anthology.
Writing may not work for everyone, but I think of it as my lifeline. When I write my problems down, or craft a story, I can almost feel the tension flowing from my fingertips onto the paper.
Available at www.amazon.com: Early Onset Blog: The Friendship Connection, Early Onset Blog: Essays from an Online Journal, and Alzheimer’s Anthology of Unconditional Love.
For a book review of the Early Onset Blog books: http://plantcityladyandfriends.blogspot.com/.