Recently, I read an interesting article that talks about how gratitude literally rewires your brain. A study found that practicing gratitude resulted in waking up feeling more refreshed, feeling more connected with others, experiencing better sleep and lower levels of anxiety (realfarmacy.com). That old saying – “every cloud has a silver lining” – may in fact, have positive health benefits.
So I got to thinking, how can this benefit during the the difficult, dark grey cloud season of experiencing a loved one deteriorating with dementia? Waking up feeling more refreshed, sleeping better and low anxiety would definitely aid the process.
Here are a few ideas that I feel grateful for during those dark days. What are yours?
- The long farewell itself. The long period of saying farewell gave me time to say absolutely everything I felt I needed to before my loved ones passed. In the case of a sudden death, often loved ones are left feeling like there was so much they wanted to say.
- The times when we shared a laugh when my parents were able to laugh at themselves for the funny forgetful moments. And beyond that season, the laughs with the staff on those funny occasions, like when we lost my Dad and found him fast asleep on Bills bed.
- The special moments and deep exchanges we never would have had as the dementia removed their emotional barriers.
- The nostalgic videos I was diligent to record before their memory and personality disappeared.
- The extra time spent with my parents that I was careful to invest, necessitated by the disease.
- The beautiful music moments and nature moments as I helped them be mindful of the moment.
- The bitter sweet moments of the circle of life, like when I cut my parents fingernails for them, something they did for me as a little girl.
- Hearing the stories of the other residents and families which resulted in de-stigmatising dementia in my own thinking.
- The compassion and understanding I now have for others travelling difficult caring journeys.