It’s Dementia Awareness Week, a time to shine the spotlight on people living with dementia and those who care for them. And a time to reflect on just how many people are affected by this wicked disease. Normally, I would give at least two Dementia Friends talks and try to attend as many associated events as possible, but not this year. Tomorrow, I’m going to the Alzheimer’s Society’s annual conference but that’s the extent of my involvement in DAW.
And yet, and yet, I’ve never been more dementia aware than I am at the moment. 13 days after Mum’s death, all I want to talk about is her and that means dementia too. For all I talk about wanting to remember Mum as she was BD (before dementia) and that will be the main focus when we gather to celebrate her life in a week’s time, I find I can’t separate Mum from the disease.
It’s like a double mourning. I miss the Mum I grew up with, but I miss the Mum I’ve been visiting in The Firs for the last six years. In essence, they were two people, linked by one, indomitable spirit. I’m also missing my father. He died eight years ago, a week or two before Mum’s diagnosis was confirmed. I don’t think Mum ever mourned the man she’d been married to for 46 years and perhaps I didn’t either. While Mum was alive, a part of Dad lived on. Now, they’re both gone.
The funeral, or service of celebration as I prefer to think of it, will be a chance to think of happier times. Many of Mum and Dad’s closest friends will be there and there will be smiles and laughter. But Mum’s dementia won’t be airbrushed out of a portrait of her life. It was, sadly, part of her story and if that story helps to raise awareness, this and every week, I know she would be happy.