don’t mourn me long


One of the biggest tragedies of Alzheimer is not the disease itself. It’s that people look at their loved ones living with the disease and write them off. They buy into the overwhelmingly negative narrative that living with dementia is a long, slow journey into oblivion, and all they can see are loss, tragedy, and despair. They experience great pain when their loved one doesn’t recognize them. Some become paralyzed by grief before their loved one even dies.

While they suffer and grieve multiple losses every day, wishing they could recapture the past or reassemble someone they believe is falling apart, they miss countless opportunities to find joy, healing, laughter and connection with the person who is standing, sitting, or lying in front of them – still human, still breathing, still able to give and receive love and care. They miss chances to build bridges, to reimagine their relationship, to be in the moment with that person they love. And then, before they know it, their mother/father/spouse/sister/brother is gone forever, for real, and it’s too late.

This poem is about changing that mindset. People who live with dementia are people until the very end. We owe it to them to support them as they live until they die.

don’t mourn me long

Dedicated to finding hope and letting go of loss.

don’t mourn me long

©2017 punkie  

don’t mourn me long
before i’m gone
and manifest your fear

think once or twice
consider thrice
before painting days so drear

look deep within
through thick and thin
discover i’m still here

with life to live
and more to give
this moment, this month, this year

so smile, don’t frown
be up, not down
as harvest time draws near

on with the show
until you know
i’ve truly left my dear

don’t mourn me long
before I’m gone
wait until I die

and even then
don’t grieve me when
my spirit’s in the sky

imagine me
wild and free
young and fit and spry

no body left
no brain that’s cleft
no chains, no drugs, no ties

on sacred wings
i swoop and swing
scant time to wonder why

when like the wind
free from all sin
i soar sweetly up on high

don’t waste a tear
on earthly spheres
let go and feel me fly

don’t mourn me long
before I’m gone
find hope with childlike eyes


©2016 Susan Macaulay. I invite you to share my poetry widely, but please do not reblog or copy and paste my poems into other social media without my permission. Thank you.

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Image copyright: akinshin / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. It doesn’t take a lot of words to create poetry that strikes at the heart. This lilting verse is evidence of that. Absolutely beautiful, Susan.

  2. That is a beautiful poem, Susan. I do think that we often mourn the loss of someone long before they are gone. It may be a preservation tool of sorts-that disconnecting—a stepping away from the painfully obvious. It is sad but I know it happens. xo Diana

  3. Bing Boettner on


    As always, this is beautiful. I had my my colleague who is a business teacher print and laminate one of your poems. It is on our classroom wall and my students love it. I need to find a frame for it.

    Thank you for all you do. You are a great blessing!

    Bing Boettner

    • Thanks Bing! A couple of weeks ago I was in Ontario doing a workshop for caregivers. In the workshop handouts, I included a copy of “let me shine,” my poem about changing mindsets about dementia. One woman in the class said: “I have that poem pinned on my wall. Someone gave it to me.” I was thrilled. ” I wrote it,” I said. She was stunned. She hadn’t known where it came from, or who had written it. It felt wonderful to learn that good messages are spreading, even when I don’t always know about it. I would love it if you sent me a picture of the poem on your wall, and more information about you and your students. Where are you? What are you teaching?

      Thanks again and keep up the good work <3

  4. Susan, thanks for all that you do. I love this poem. There are still so so many that believe the myths that people who live with dementia in the mid and later stages are gone when they no longer can answer you the way YOU want. These family members miss so many joyful times with their loved ones when they can’t let go of THEIR needs and expectations. They feel mom/dad has to say their name for THEM to know their loved one recognizes them. A person ALWAYS knows you until the day they die. We need to LET GO of our own needs, let it be OK to meet them where they are, learn to read non-verbal, be close to them and love unconditionally. They can communicate, if you learn non-verbal language and truly see the person within.

    • Judy, Thanks right back at you for all that you do! And I couldn’t agree with you more – I feel sad that so many people not only miss out on opportunities for joy, but also add to the difficult road of someone who lives with dementia by denying them the companionship and love that could help them on their journey. That’s the real tragedy in my opinion.

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