I love this beautiful quote by Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement. It captures what I wish for my care partner, myself and for all us: to live until we die, and to die in peace when the time comes.
Here are seven ways to honour those living and dying with dementia:
1) know with certainty that they there, always, until the very end and beyond. It may be more difficult to see past the external manifestations of the disease, but it’s even more critically important to let them shine.
2) respect their rights, especially the right to express themselves in whatever way they can – an angry word, a piece of resistance or a single breath may embody the experiences or wisdom of a lifetime.
3) listen carefully using all your senses, including your sixth sense, to connect with their soul and their spirit; let your broken heart be an open heart.
4) love them for who they are now, don’t waste a moment wishing they were somebody they were once upon another time.
5) celebrate their life while they’re still living, even as you grieve their imminent departure. Remember there will be plenty of time for mourning when they’re gone.
6) smile readily, laugh lightly, sing sweetly, touch gently, experience freely, hold tenderly, love boundlessly, and perhaps most important, let go gracefully.
7) understand the loss is in us.