Do Dementia sufferers know how to show compassion?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by witchpig, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. witchpig

    witchpig Registered User

    Dec 31, 2011
    Maidstone Kent
    Im going through a very dark patch at the moment, I lost my best friend yesterday. He treated me like a daughter and my children like his grandchildren. He was always there for me whatever the time of day and night. I could talk to him about anything and everything. He got me back into re-enacting when mum first started to go " Funny" on us.

    I was with mum when the news came through about my friends death. Needless to say I was really upset. She was concerned as I don't usually cry over anything. Today I was in the car with her when a song on the radio reminded me of my friend, So I started crying ( as im doing right now writing this). Mum turns round to me and says " Why are you crying" I explained about my friend dying. She then says " Well he's dead now, nothing to do with me."

    I really wanted support from my mum but I now feel bitterness towards her for what she said. I don't think I can go and see mum again this week in case I say or do something I might regret later. But I need support as im just a blubbering wreck at the moment.

    Anyone who knows me from my previous posts knows that im usually a strong person but I just don't seem to be handling my friends death very well.

    Mum just doesn't seem to realise that im the one needing support and a shoulder to cry on and time and space for me. Im supposed to carry on as if nothing as happened.
  2. Not so Rosy

    Not so Rosy Registered User

    Nov 30, 2013
    I am so sorry you lost your best friend.

    When I lost my husband my Dad said to me, well at least your food bills will go down. :eek:

    I honestly don't know if it was the Dementia speaking or that was Dads only way of dealing with my loss in a lighthearted type of way. Although I know Dad loves me in the most monumental way, I know he has always had problems expressing it in words.
  3. elizabeth20

    elizabeth20 Registered User

    Dec 28, 2013
    A big hug from me.

    I understand completely. My mum was my sounding board and if she wasn't around I'd drive to my best friends for coffee or something stronger. They were always there for me. My friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer on my birthday and is very very poorly as I write this. My mum is into the late stages now and I have told her about my friend often but she has no interest at all, no recollection of my friend, no recollection of me as her daughter as such, she knows me but there is no mother daughter bond going on in her head at all. I am lonely even though I have a family and a loving husband I feel let down I feel my mum has let me down when I needed her the most.

    If you don't feel like going to see her give yourself a couple of days off. She will miss you and perhaps you will feel more positive to deal with her. I need to remind myself constantly that it is the illness and not the person we are angry with.
    It will take time for you to grieve and you already have lots of support from the TP family-it's a good starting point and I'm sure that more hugs will be on the way. Take Care x
  4. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Unfortunately it is all too common lacking empathy and only being (sometimes quite obsessively) interested in themselves. To use the time wore phrase "it's the disease talking not your mum" and it is just that.
    I'm sorry to hear about your friend and grieving alone is never good but I don't think getting bitter towards your mother for something she can no longer do or understand won't help your relationship you are expecting her to do something which now is beyond her capabilities.
    My condolences on your sad loss, this person obviously meant a lot to you but I'm sure they wouldn't want their passing to be a cause of friction between you and your mother.
  5. Hair Twiddler

    Hair Twiddler Registered User

    Aug 14, 2012
    Middle England
    #5 Hair Twiddler, Mar 17, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
    I am so sorry you've lost your friend.
    I think that you should take a rest from visiting your mum - give yourself some time to think of your friend without the stress and tension of your mum "looming over you". I say this with some degree of insight. My mum too said some terribly hurtful things when I was away for a day at a funeral. The spiteful venom that I heard when I tried to explain why she hadn't seen me for 10 hours still rings in my ears. I have tried to forgive and forget but reading your post has reminded me (eight months on) that this disease takes a dreadful toll on all it touches.
    So my advice will be take a break - mourn your dear friend and when you are feeling stronger see your mum. Take each day one at a time, do make space for your sadness and reflection, happiness and pleasures, as and whenever you can.
  6. lin1

    lin1 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2010
    East Kent
    I am so sorry you have lost your best friend. Please accept my condolences.

    Your Mum cannot help it , it is what this awful disease is doing to her brain.
    Come and talk to us instead, I know it is not the same because you really need our Mum now, sadly she cant help you anymore .
  7. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    My condolences on the loss of your friend.
    I think we tend to believe that compassion and empathy are things which come from the heart, or soul of a person. But they live in the brain, and it is the damage to our loved one's brain that causes these distressing incidents.
    Even knowing this, it is hard to take when in the midst of grief and loss, so it may be best to give yourself some time away from the complexities of dementia, and allow yourself to grieve. It's the most natural thing to expect sympathy and support from our parent or spouse, but sadly they too often have these qualities taken away from them by dementia.
    I really sympathise with you.
  8. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    It really does depend on so many things and I'm sorry your mum was unable to share your grief.

    My grandmother, on hearing her sister had died said exactly the same as your mum.

    My mother on hearing her estranged brother had died said, " he was never any good."

    My husband on hearing his closest friend had died couldn't speak to his widow for tears. They were both sobbing over the phone.

    I'm afraid there's no control over reactions to news good or bad. It's another tough fact of life for some of us.
  9. Helen33

    Helen33 Registered User

    Jul 20, 2008
    My late husband lost the ability to empathise. This made certain events quite difficult. When his grandson suddenly died aged 21 in an accident, it was very evident that his normal reactions were gone. It is very sad.

    Losing your best friend is heartbreaking. I would suggest you are handling your friend's death in a way that is right for you. Losing him is a very great loss indeed as he sounded like a father figure. It is only natural that you find yourself crying and feeling bereft. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    Wishing you the strength to deal with the funeral and all that may involve for you.

  10. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    When my little Grandson was new born he was rushed to Hospital-he was fading fast -like 'cot death' symptoms. It was a horrible time. The same thing happened again when he was actually in the Hospital. My Daughter was distraught and so was I. Pete? well no reaction at all. Nothing.Blank face and blank emotions.

    I'm also sorry that you are feeling the loss of your friend so badly and can't share your sadness with your Mum-I do hope that you have others (apart from us) who will support you.


    Lyn T XX
  11. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    Try not to let the bitterness grow, because that will do you harm. If your mum would have been compassionate and supportive prior to the illness then you have your answer. It does seem to lead to complete self-centredness and an inability to feel empathy and sympathy - that's been my experience of it.
    Take a little time and space to mourn your friend away from your dementia duties. It's a lot to bear. You'll need to be kind to yourself.
  12. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    I had to have a hysterectomy whilst caring for my husband who has Alzheimer's.

    Either our daughter or son brought him to see me each day and said how upset and concerned he was at me being in hospital. I knew he was not concerned for me but for the fact I was missing from home and how it was affecting him. Once I was home he expected everything to be as it was before the operation and when I said sorry we can't do that today because of my operation he would just reply, sorry I did not know. 10 minutes later he would be asking again to go out.

    Unfortunately dementia robs them of empathy and sympathy which can look like they have become uncaring.
  13. witchpig

    witchpig Registered User

    Dec 31, 2011
    Maidstone Kent
    Thank you all for your kind comments, I know I have support on here.

    I have decided not to visit mum this week, leave her to my part time invisible sister.

    I know its the illness talking but its heart breaking when you are supposed to be so grief-stricken when she loses a friend but she cant return the feelings.

    Im off to work now. Lets see how many car alarms I can set off today! At the weekend we had a new cannon delivered to work and it is just sitting there waiting to be fired:D. I Think ill double charge it with powder.:eek:
  14. BR_ANA

    BR_ANA Registered User

    Jun 27, 2012
    When my mom was on stage 6, a friend died. I didn't tell her anything, I just asked for hugs ( that I needed).

    Think about what you need from your mother and ask directly. Cuddle, hug, company.
  15. henfenywfach

    henfenywfach Registered User

    May 23, 2013
    Hi! sorry that youve lost such a good friend.

    When things happen to someone with dementia..they dont always remember the incident or the place..but emotionally still have the feelings connected to them..

    They might not understand but still feel it and cant communicate the jumbled messages why they feel like they do.
    This so emotional thing thats happened to you only connects with your mum emotionally because shes probably upset because your upset..
    She cannot connect to whats happened like you or i would..and communicate effectively with sympathy..
    As the disease progresses and reactions skills facts memories slowly disappear..she will react to situations at what stage her memory is essence that means if her memory is in her younger years shed try and understand todays issues from a memory in a different era when things were different..then add the inability to deal with messages getting jumbled..
    Obviously every person is different and their dementia is different at different stages.
    The dementia friends session help us all understand more about dementia..ive done it..and now am a encourage more understanding.

    Again im sorry for your loss..and hope you look after yourself too.
    Best wishes

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Talking Point mobile app
  16. Loopiloo

    Loopiloo Registered User

    May 10, 2010
    As Kevini said, and also others, it is common for dementia suffers to lack empathy and become very selfish, self absorbed. My husband was never previously selfish, a very caring, loving, empathetic man, but with dementia he became the opposite. It was horrible, unable to share a deep felt grief with a previously very empathetic husband who would normally have shared the grief. But it is this awful disease which has changed them. Try not to be bitter.

    Sympathy from me for the loss of your best friend, it is hard to deal with. Such friends are precious. I would agree with taking a break from visiting your Mum and give yourself time to grieve for your loss.

    My condolences to you.

    Loo x
  17. Moonflower

    Moonflower Registered User

    Mar 28, 2012
    When my daughter was diagnosed with a serious life-limiting condition my Mum's response was "well that's it her life is over really, can you find an institution which will take her so you don't have to look after her." The subtext being that any time looking after daughter was less time available for mum.

    Yes, I know it's the dementia, but that didn't make it hurt any less, to be honest.
    And it's a practical issue too - I do have to keep mum and daughter apart as it really is better that daughter doesn't hear comments like that.

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